Both hopeful and heart-breaking, Hong Kong Mixtape chronicles the change in the creative landscape of Hong Kong as the shadow of Beijing, and the draconian laws it imposes, looms large.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
Defeated or defiant? San San F. Young’s bittersweet documentary asks what remains of the 2019 Hong Kong protest movement, and what can still be done after the implementation of the 2020 national security law. The film follows a number of artists in the city in the wake of the highly controversial law, which essentially criminalises any and all opposition to Beijing, anything deemed offensive enough ‘to endanger national security’. If the crime seems vague, it’s because it is. The penalty? Up to life imprisonment.
Interspersed with footage of the brutal crackdown in 2019, where protesters were beaten in the streets and dragged away by police, we’re offered a window into the lives of the artists who still remain; perhaps the most-striking, the sculptors behind the HK Lady Liberty statuettes, who erect their creation in clandestine operations across the city.
Most of the subjects of Hong Kong Mixtape are barely out of high-school, with the exception of outlandish performance artist Kacey Wong. Like the eccentric Uncle Ben of the protest movement, Wong surmises, “with great limitations … so comes great creativity”. Their art blossomed throughout times of turmoil, and even as some are forced into exile, they will not go quietly. — Matt Bloomfield
“A reading of Young’s film says that Wong’s quiet exit from Hong Kong represents the exasperated departure of its culture and a warning that the city’s soul is undergoing re-construction. But with one project at the end of the film involving Hong Kongers from around the world coming together to create one last piece of art, Young attempts to give optimism and light to her story.” — Rachel Ho, Point of View Magazine