When a city rises up against a superpower, everyone must decide how far they will go for freedom.
Hong Kong 2019 – The world has seen the iconic images of protestors covered in black, tossing back tear gas, waving black flags and protesting against the authoritarian superpower that is China in order to fight for a democratic future. It is easy to be caught up in the action, in the glorification of bravery and sacrifice. But away from the limelight, who are these hidden people concealed underneath their masks? What are the protestors really fighting for? What is at stake for them?
Narrated by Eve, a student, When a City Rises follows a teenage couple in love, a student leader, and a father, as they navigate the protest movement, each taking different kinds of action to strike back against the superpower overshadowing their lives. Using direct action, guerrilla tactics, technology, social media, memes and graffiti, they try to challenge the status quo. Each one plays a different role in this huge social movement. Eve, offers background legal support from her ‘control’ room. She is entirely behind the more radical action until her campus is besieged by police and in response protesters turn her university into a brick and firebomb factory. Tan, a father, first took to the streets when the government proposed the extradition bill. He is quickly radicalised and grows impatient with the political impasse, contemplating more dangerous action, even though he has the most to lose. 18-year-old MJ dreams of being a footballer and likes shopping with his girlfriend. Born in a different time, he would be splitting his hours between school and the pitch. Instead, every weekend he is at a protest, putting his relationship in peril.
When a City Rises captures three characters and a year of their personal struggles throughout the movement. Each must confront their own fears and find out exactly how much they are willing to risk for change. Relationships break and form amidst tear gas and rubber bullets, and across the border, China’s People Liberation Army awaits. With a global pandemic driving protests inside and the new even more repressive National Security Law introduced, the stakes have never been higher.
Broken Harmony: China’s Dissidents tells the story of Hua Ze, an ordinary Chinese citizen for whom a discovery of corruption led her into a hidden world of dissidents, citizen journalism, police harassment and kidnappings.
Once a mild mannered TV director, Hua Ze discovered that an old friend reporting on alleged corruption after the Sichuan earthquake had disappeared, along with any mention of him online. Following a trail of leads over the great internet fire wall of China, she discovers not just the fate of her friend, but the truth behind Sichuan’s fatal building code violations, a jaw-dropping array of human rights abuses across China and comes to the realization that the entire internet in China is a state controlled fiction.
Hua’s awakening takes her into a new world of dissidents, journalists and human rights lawyers. As she begins her own reporting, pressure from the government is swift, and her world is turned upside down. She is forced out of her job and placed under surveillance. One by one, her new friends are arrested or detained. Phones are tapped and secretive threats and warnings are made. But Hua cannot turn a blind eye to the corruption and she pays the price.
When ordinary Chinese citizens go to extraordinary lengths to fight human rights abuses, the risks are enormous, even life-threatening. Broken Harmony reveals Hua’s courageous acts and willingness to lose everything to fight for justice and the rule of law.
The Coming War on China, from award winning journalist John Pilger, reveals what the news doesn’t – that the world’s greatest military power, the United States, and the world’s second economic power, China, both nuclear-armed, may well be on the road to war.
Nuclear war is not only imaginable, but planned. The greatest build-up of NATO military forces since the Second World War is under way on the western borders of Russia. On the other side of the world, the rise of China is viewed in Washington as a threat to American dominance.
To counter this, President Obama announced a ‘pivot to Asia’, which meant that almost two-thirds of all US naval forces would be transferred to Asia and the Pacific, their weapons aimed at China. A policy which has been taken up by his successor Donald Trump, who during his election campaign said “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country and that’s what they’re doing”.
Filmed on five possible front-lines across Asia and the Pacific over two years, the story is told in chapters that connect a secret and ‘forgotten’ past to the rapacious actions of great power today and to a resistance, of which little is known in the West.
Finding Fidel tells the remarkable story of war cameraman Erik Durschmied, who in 1958 journeyed to Cuba’s Sierra Maestra mountains to interview a little-known rebel leader named Fidel Castro. A month later, Castro’s band of fighters rolled into Havana, and the world would never be the same.
Intercutting Durschmeid’s reflections on the lost promise of Castro’s Revolution with his rarely seen interview with the young Fidel, award winning filmmaker Bay Weyman explores the hinge of fate, the vagaries of history, and the power of media in both men’s lives.
Durschmied spent weeks in Castro’s guerrilla headquarters, filming fascinating scenes of camp life with the rebels, and conducting the only known English-language interview with Fidel from the period just before he came to power. The interview is a unique time capsule, vividly depicting Castro’s early views, his struggle against the dictator Batista, and his goals for the Revolution.
“There is no Communism or Marxism in our idea,” Fidel insists. “Our political philosophy is representative democracy and social justice in a well-planned economy.”
Finding Fidel follows Durschmied as he returns to Cuba on the 50th Anniversary of the Revolution, retracing his original route to the mountains. Durschmied tells the true story behind his interviews with Fidel, and of the future dictator’s consummate use of the media to control his message and create his image. The daring young cameraman brought Castro’s message to the world just as Havana fell, and as a result his career took off.
Though he has witnessed many of the major events of our times, for Durschmied the interview on a mountaintop in Cuba remains the most meaningful. As he returns to Castro’s camp in the Sierra Maestra, he finds an unexpected touchstone that marks the beginning and end of the journey.
Controversial to its core, this hard-hitting anti-Western propaganda film, which looks at the influence of American visual and consumption culture on the rest of the world from a North Korean perspective, has been described as ‘either a damning indictment of 21st Century culture or the best piece of propaganda in a generation.’
Propaganda signals the birth of a new genre-bending generation of film maker. Using the ‘fake North Korean propaganda’ found-footage device, Slavko Martinov first parodies its language and stylings, before targeting the mountain of hypocrisies and contradictions that make up the modern Western narrative. In doing so, Propaganda delivers a devastating blow to those who might be quick to laugh at ‘backward’ ideologies before considering how 21st century political and cultural trends have weakened any claims to the moral high ground.
A historic gathering of over 50 African heads of state in Beijing reverberates in Zambia where the lives of three characters unfold. Mr Liu is one of thousands of Chinese entrepreneurs who have settled across the continent in search of new opportunities. He has just bought his fourth farm and business is booming.
In northern Zambia, Mr Li, a project manager for a multinational Chinese company is upgrading Zambia’s longest road. Pressure to complete the road on time intensifies when funds from the Zambian government start running out.
Meanwhile Zambia’s Trade Minister is on route to China to secure millions of dollars of investment.
Through the intimate portrayal of these characters, the expanding footprint of a rising global power is laid bare – pointing to a radically different future, not just for Africa, but also for the world.
In 1988, Olivier Brodard -a twenty one year old idealist- made a six-month humanitarian trip to Afghanistan under Soviet occupation with $50,000 in his backpack destined for the local populations.
Entering illegally via Pakistan Olivier, along with his friend Paul Castella, made the arduous journey on foot, camel and tank to the Pansir Valley. They met commander Massoud and shared the daily life of the afghan people witnessing first hand the front line of the Afghan battle against the Soviet Union.
When Olivier reluctantly returned home to Switzerland, he had a terrible car accident. After weeks in a deep coma, he woke up with severe amnesia and the new challenge of rebuilding his life.
With the help of his detailed diaries and photographs taken at the time, Olivier attempts to explore his memories and recover a part of his own identity that had been lost.
Afghan Memento tells the story of a fearless journey made by two men in their prime, but more than that, it is an elegant rendering of where our experiences, memories and identity intersect.
China’s unprecedented growth has placed it on the verge of overtaking the United States as the world’s preeminent power. But what type of power will China become? In today’s interconnected and globalized world, the answer effects each and every one of us.
In Pakistan and Afghanistan, China’s humanitarian activities and investment in infrastructure have won it the hearts and minds of the people. Yet in Tibet and Xinjiang, China is reviled as an imperialistic abuser of human rights. Will China use its strength to dominate its neighbors and become a 21st century empire, or will China’s youth lead the country towards democracy?
Whether it’s a peaceful rise or potential threat, China’s 21st century emergence as a great world power will change the lives of everyone.