12th January 2013
British Director Films Social Movement Documentary in the Hope of Saving Hong Kong
A group of secondary school students initiated an anti-patriotic education curriculum in 2012, and the long battle was filmed by British film director Matthew Torne. Torne followed Joshua Wong Chi-fung, one of the key members of Scholarism (the group which led the social movement), and Ma Jai (nickname) Ma Wan-kei throughout the whole movement. On top of this, Torne also included the 1st July rally and 2012 Legislative Council election, to showcase how the teenagers lead the people of Hong Kong in social movements. Torne’s movie “Lessons In Dissent” will be shown in cinema this spring. During the interview, Torne expressed that he hopes the movie will help the people of Hong Kong to reflect on how to save Hong Kong, and he also hopes that the international world will come to understand that One-Country-Two-Systems has failed. At the end of the movie, it quoted Ma Jai that, “we cannot simply wait for the next leader to appear.”
In 2012, Matthew Torne followed Scholarism closely when they were busy with their anti-patriotic education curriculum campaign. Just over 30, Torne has been living in Hong Kong for ten years. He thinks that expats and the West do not understand the sticky situation Hong Kong is in, “In Britain, many fools think that since there are elections in Hong Kong, there is democracy here. Some of my friends even think that Chris Patten left behind democracy in Hong Kong! Oh my god!” Immediately after he finished his dissertation on Hong Kong political reform for his PhD in Oxford University, Torne flew to Hong Kong to work on his documentaries about Hong Kong.
Torne said that Hong Kong merely became a colony of Communist China after having been a colony of Britain, “Britain wanted to control Hong Kong, so it would not have given (Hong Kong) universal suffrage, Communist China is the same.”
Torne also said that One-Country-Two-Systems has only maintained the stability of the financial system in Hong Kong, everything else is a mess – hence, it has failed. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive took office by securing only 689 votes, on top of that is a non-democratically elected Executive Council and a gerrymandered Legislative Council. “Can you believe that this is the 21st century Hong Kong? I can’t!”
Over 120,000 citizens gathered outside the government headquarter during the anti-patriotic education curriculum demonstration. On that night, Torne met with some individuals who helped fund his movie at a hotel in Admiralty (next to the headquarter) and heard the people. “The more memorable part was when Joshua was on stage giving his speech on stage. It wasn’t his speech, but people who gathered there. The students in their school uniforms passing water to the people – these teenagers are so mature, organised and responsible.” He also joint Ma Jai on 4th June (1989 Tiananmen Square massacre annual candlelight vigil) to hang banners up in Causeway Bay, “there is no fun in this type of work, but Ma said that everyone has to do something for Hong Kong. I admire his sense of responsibility.”
Torne said that this documentary may indirectly encourage people to participate in the Occupy Central movement, but the core theme is to encourage the people of Hong Kong to reflect on the current situation, “if you don’t like all these problems happening in Hong Kong, you should do something about it instead of giving a sigh and living your life the way it is.” He does not want to make these children heroes, “they are gambling their own future for the future of Hong Kong. The people of Hong Kong should not rely on them solely, everyone has to take part.”
Joshua Wong said that this documentary recorded every step of Scholarism has taken during the anti-patriotic eduction curriculum, “the most precious thing (of this movie) is that it shows how Scholarism continued to fight when there were no support and money.” He urges the public to continue to support Scholarism throughout the political reform path, “the youth have taken their steps forward. 2014 is a key year to Hong Kong’s political reform. What have the adults done for Hong Kong?” The documentary is mainly in Cantonese and approximately US$130,000 was invested in it. The majority of the funding came from individual donations.