Cannes (France) (AFP)
The Cannes film festival is scheduled to screen a documentary on Friday about the 2019 crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, potentially risking diplomatic tensions with China.
A late entry slated for the penultimate day of the festival, “Revolution of our Times” chronicles the Hong Kong government’s brutal crackdown on protests triggered by the introduction of an extradition bill allowing citizens to Hong Kong to be returned to China for prosecution.
“This film is free from self-censorship,” director Kiwi Chow said in an email to AFP. “In many documentaries made on the movement, filmmakers are under immense pressure due to the current political climate in the city. I made this film completely free from any outside influence, ”he said.
Cannes management said they had no knowledge of the film, the conditions of its production or the identity of the filmmaker before it was sent to the festival.
“But we were immediately enthusiastic,” festival director Thierry Fremaux told AFP.
“The festival is proud to present this film to show an important moment in world events. This has been the tradition and vocation of Cannes since 1946, ”he added.
For approximately 152 minutes, the documentary explores the protest movement from within, which lacked a clear leader.
The involvement of ordinary citizens is predominant in the film, many of them young, their faces masked or blurred in post-production.
“I wanted to explain the development, which got us to this point,” Chow said. “I want to tell the story of Hong Kong to people who don’t know Hong Kong. ”
Plenty of footage of pitched battles and fighting around barricades shows Hong Kong police using extreme brutality.
The footage shows violent beatings of protesters gathered in police traps, people pushed through windows and suspected drownings.
Chow said he felt “anxiety and fear in my heart” while directing the documentary and predicted that it would not be shown publicly in Hong Kong, where police surveillance of potential protests has been stepped up.
Some of its protagonists – who could face prosecution under a new Chinese-sponsored security law – are now in exile, some are in jail and others are missing, Chow said.
Cannes treated the film with unusual discretion, only allowing a handful of accredited journalists to see it before a single scheduled public screening titled “Surprise Documentary” on Friday.
© 2021 AFP