Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hong Kong Schoolboy Activists Portrayed in "Lessons in Dissent"

To listen to our interview with Director Matthew Torne on Subversity Online, click: here. Documentary available for viewing via UCI on-site or via VPN: Kanopy streaming. May also be available at other academic web sites.

Oxford-educated scholar (his Master's thesis was on Hong Kong politics) turned documentary filmmaker Matthew Torne's  "Lessons in Dissent" (whom he also co-produced) deftly portrays two dedicated teenagers fighting the moneyed Hong Kong establishment and special administrative region's Beijing masters.  It's a study in contrasts and a striking depiction of a new generation of young activists and protesters in a very politicized Hong Kong.  Some spectacular footage is included.

Media-savy teenager Joshua Wong
Focusing not on the recent Umbrella Revolution or Movement, Torne details the struggle in Hong Kong against the proposed imposition of what critics termed brain-washing and propagandistic, a mainland China-dictated National Education in Hong Kong school curricula.

One figure portrayed is the media savy 15-year-old schoolboy Joshua Wong Chi-fung (之鋒), the convenor of Scholarism, and who led the fight against National Education in 2011, and who also was a key figure in last Fall's Umbrella Movement.

The more radical Ma Jai is shown being arrested

In striking contrast is the more below the radar and less known Ma Wan-ke () (nicknamed "Ma Jai" () a 17-year-old secondary school dropout (from the same school and housing estate as the more mainstream Joshua Wong), who while lacking Mr. Wong's more sophisticated political analysis (spoken in the film in Cantonese, with English subtitles), nonetheless is able to offer biting observations that prove that he is able to be well read and  educated despite Hong Kong's at times stultifying education system.  He is an active member of the more anarchistic League of Social Democrats.

Matthew Torne at UC Irvine 25 February 2015; Photo c Daniel C. Tsang 2015
For Subversity Show Online, show host Daniel C. Tsang interviewed Director Matthew Torne earlier today from London via Skype.  Torne had shown his documentary before several dozen students at UC Irvine the Wednesday before.  Meanwhile, Joshua Wong was featured in  the L.A. Times after their visit to UCLA.

Protest leader Joshua Wong
On Subversity,Torne offers a critical analysis of the current political situation in Hong Kong in the aftermath of last fall's uprising.  He explains why he chose the two young protesters to feature in his film and offers some trunchent analysis of the People's Republic of China as Hong Kong's new colonial masters.

Joshua Wong with Lessons in Dissent DVD
The DVD was just released in Hong Kong; the boxed set comes with two DVDs (the documentary plus outakes) and a 96-page booklet with trenchant analyses of the political situation in Hong Kong.  - Daniel C. Tsang.

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