The 2019 Hong Kong protests witnessed not only sustained physical demonstrations by locals, but also a swell of online digital media that recorded and remixed conflicts between protestors and police. By documenting key moving images that circulated throughout social media and the film festival circuit, White’s essay reorients Hong Kong film studies’ relationship with the digital. Although cinema played a secondary role in the 2019 protests compared to digital media, numerous intertextual linkages demonstrate the productive potential of considering the two together. Special attention is given to the cops-and-robbers genre, a linchpin in local film history and a frequent form of choice for Hong Kong-mainland China coproductions. While the troubled representation of police in 2019 and beyond suggests that the future of the genre is unstable, the ingenuity of recent digital media demonstrates Hong Kong’s enduring potential for moving image innovation.
Pixels, Police, and Batons: Hong Kong Cinema, Digital Media, the 2019 Protests, and Beyond
Cameron L. White is a PhD student in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan. He researches East Asian moving image culture, with a focus on Hong Kong. He is particularly interested in the onscreen representation and translation of language. His script for the short film City Music was a Grand Prize Winner at the 2013 Beijing International Screenwriting Competition and was filmed in collaboration with the Beijing Film Academy.
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Cameron L. White; Pixels, Police, and Batons: Hong Kong Cinema, Digital Media, the 2019 Protests, and Beyond. Film Quarterly 1 March 2021; 74 (3): 9–22. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2021.74.3.9
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