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Umbrella movement protest in Hong Kong spawns short films

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 January, 2015, 9:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 January, 2015, 9:56pm

The umbrella movement inspired an artistic flowering among Hongkongers. Creative street art abounded at pro-democracy protest sites in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok. Songs were composed for the political movement, including Raise the Umbrella, which went on to be named "favourite song" of 2014 at Commercial Radio's annual music awards on January 1.

Film personalities were spotted in the protest areas, too — and cinematographer Christopher Doyle, for one, has announced that his short film about the civil disobedience movement should be completed by the time this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival opens on March 23.

First off the blocks, in terms of getting their films screened in a theatrical setting, are the five female directors of the documentary shorts in the Umbrella Movement Shorts Selection at the latest edition of Ying E Chi's Hong Kong Independent Film Festival.

City University assistant professor Shannon Walsh's Under the Umbrella (pictured) looks at three young women recording their perspectives on the protests. Creative media student Wang Jingjing, 21, is a Shanghai native who had only been in Hong Kong two months when the pro-democracy protests began. Social work student Ansah Malik, 29, is a fourth generation Hongkonger.

Wang is more of an observer of the umbrella movement, but Malik is an active participant at the protest areas — and the latter's discussion of the way she and her fellow ethnic minorities were treated by other pro-democracy supporters are likely to get viewers tearing up.

Although well aware of her foreign status, 24-year-old Vietnamese graduate student Vicky Do backs the umbrella movement, as shown in Walsh's work and her own offering, Stranger from Paradise — one of two shorts in this selection made by Walsh's students. The other is Moscow-born Daria Marchenko's less than two-minute-long Occupy Movement, Hong Kong (aka Drops 720).

Images of the Admiralty protest camp predominate in the four other short films, but Liu To's raw A Tiny Handheld Camera covers heated exchanges that took place in Mong Kok, on the evening of the 19th day of the Occupy protests, between her and a number of police officers who objected to her shooting them with her camera.

Upset police officers also can be seen in Nate Chan Chin-hae's Do You Hear the Women Sing? Also shown are disturbing scenes of anti-umbrella movement agitators sexually harassing female pro-democracy protesters.

But in the main, the film has a positive focus on 10 female supporters of the umbrella movement (including "a secretary", "a mother", Christians and "a lesbian"), all of whom are the kind of people who help to maintain one's faith in Hong Kong and its inhabitants.


Umbrella Movement Shorts Selection (screening with Sunflower Occupation), January 27, 8pm, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Wan Chai. Part of the Hong Kong Independent Film Festival