Taking Back the Legislature and Inside the Red Brick Wall depict two critical events in Hong Kong’s relentless 2019 protests, illuminating the messy scrum of direct actions in unflinching detail. Produced collectively and credited anonymously out of concern for the filmmakers’ safety, they present a formal challenge to the tropes and ethics of documentary filmmaking that have come to redefine Hong Kong cinema and the “copaganda” film as genre. This article takes a necessary intervention to study Taking Back the Legislature and Inside the Red Brick Wall formally, reaching beyond the political controversies and censorship issues surrounding these films. Decoding uses of blur, this article examines how the filmmakers accomplish a way of seeing that is beyond surveillance cinema—undoing the trope of a singular, exposed protagonist in favor of an anonymized, blurred and phantasmic mass—that poses a new cinematic vernacular of fugitivity.
Phantasms of Dissent: Hong Kong’s New Documentary Vernacular
Tiffany Sia is an artist, filmmaker and writer. Her multidisciplinary practice explores the relationship between historiography, affect and temporality and the material/immaterial boundaries of print and media distribution. She is the director of Never Rest/Unrest (2020) and Do Not Circulate (2021), and the author of Too Salty Too Wet (2020). Born in Hong Kong, Sia grew up in New York City, where she currently lives and works.
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Tiffany Sia; Phantasms of Dissent: Hong Kong’s New Documentary Vernacular. Film Quarterly 1 June 2022; 75 (4): 34–46. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2022.75.4.34
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