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.