Screened as part of NZIFF 2021

When a City Rises 2021

Directed by Evie Cheung, Cathy Chu, Huang Yuk-kwok, Ip Kar Man, Iris Kwong, Jenn Lee, Han Yan Yuen

This urgent documentary takes an intimate look at young political activists in Hong Kong as they take a determined stand against a global superpower to fight for freedom, democracy and a better future.

China / Hong Kong In Cantonese and English with English subtitles
100 minutes DCP


Sinead Kirwan
Han Yan Yuen


Yuling Chow
Cathy Chu
Amy Ip
Sharon Yeung
Han Yan Yuen


Huang Yuk-kwok
Jenn Lee


Adrian Leung


CPH:DOX 2021


F:act Award, CPH:DOX Documentary Film Festival 2021


In June 2019, the Hong Kong government introduced an extradition bill that residents feared would further undermine the autonomy of the ex-British colony; millions marched peacefully against the proposal. Ignored by their unelected leader, some protestors escalated their action, leading to unaccountable police brutality that drove more Hong Kongers to the streets and resulted in the largest and most violent protest movement against authoritarian Chinese rule.

This gripping documentary provides a comprehensive overview of the unrest in Hong Kong and the subsequent crackdown by the Chinese government, following four protestors as they take on various roles during the movement: William and Eve, university students who provide ‘support’; MJ, a ‘moderate’ young man who joins protests regularly to the chagrin of his girlfriend; and Tan, a young father and a ‘frontliner’. These are the radicals. As the filmmaking collective follows these protestors, we see a movement broadly supported by the residents who fought on many fronts: rallies, street battles and district council elections. However, the arrival of Covid-19 and the imposing of a draconian National Security Law stifled any opposition in 2020. This film is a testament to those in Hong Kong who tried to fight for a better future. — Vicci Ho

“Exceptional access, a wealth of nerve-shredding footage and impressively nimble work... one of the most complete accounts of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests to date... an unbearably tense picture which unfolds with urgency of a thriller.” — Wendy Ide, Screendaily