Award-Winning Hong Kong Protest Documentaries Sold Out in New York

By Jenny Zeng
Jenny Zeng
Jenny Zeng
September 14, 2021 Updated: September 16, 2021

NEW YORK—The third CineCina Film Festival in New York ended on Sept. 12 after three days and six screenings, including the pro-democracy Hong Kong documentaries “Taking Back the Legislature” and “Inside the Red Brick Wall.”

The documentaries, about the Hong Kong protests that occurred in July and November 2019, were shown at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan on the last day to a packed theater.

The co-organizer of the event was New Yorkers Supporting Hong Kong (NY4HK).

Anna Yeung-Cheung, founder of the group, said she was deeply impressed by the pictures as she watched them for the first time. She said she had tears in her eyes after learning about what happened during the anti-extradition bill protests in Hong Kong. She believes that showing the films can enable more Americans to understand what really happened in 2019.

A third Hong Kong film, “Drifting,” was screened at the festival’s closing the same day. According to Frank Yan, the curator of the CineCina Film Festival, it describes the lives of a group of homeless and their efforts to sue the government.

Yan said the film provided an “immersive experience” that was “very refreshing.” “Hong Kong films are a core part of Chinese-language films, so we also hope to bring such films and their diverse perspectives to America,” he told The Epoch Times.

“Inside the Red Brick Wall” was screened in many countries following its premiere in Toronto in late August. It records the large-scale police-civilian clashes during the November 2019 protest of Hong Kong’s Extradition Law Amendment Bill, and shows the situation of protesters trapped in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University from multiple perspectives.

The Sept. 12 screening was the film’s first in-person screening in New York. Ticket sales for the two documentaries started on Aug. 22. Within the first day, about half of the seats were booked, according to NY4HK.

“Inside the Red Brick Wall” was named the best film by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society in 2020 and the Best Editing Award in the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Yan said that Hong Kong films are an essential part of Chinese-language films, and he hopes that they will be more widely available to United States audiences.

Both films were launched in early 2020. “Taking Back the Legislature” depicts the anti-extradition bill protest in Hong Kong on Jul. 1, 2019. It is a sister film of “Inside the Red Brick Wall” and won the Chinese Documentary Award at the Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival (TIDF).

Although the two documentaries have won multiple awards internationally, Hong Kong has continued to restrict the film and its distributor.

On Sept. 21 last year, two hours before the Hong Kong Arts Center screening, the Hong Kong Electrical Inspection Office said the film is rated Class III, meaning only people aged 18 or over can see it. “Inside the Red Brick Wall” was initially scheduled to be shown at the Golden Scene Cinema in Hong Kong in March, but the cinema canceled it three hours before its scheduled screen time.

In July, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council abruptly terminated the annual funding of film distributor, Ying E Chi, which distributed “Taking Back the Legislature” and “Inside the Red Brick Wall.”

Jenny Zeng
Jenny Zeng