RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE

“Teenager vs. Superpower”: Watch the new movie about the Hong Kong student who stood up to China

Obsession
China's Transition
Obsession
China's Transition

Three years ago tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong took to the street to fight for universal voting rights, rallied by young students who had grown up in a territory that transferred from British to Chinese control in 1997. One of those young students, Joshua Wong, is the focus of a Netflix documentary that brings the story of Hong Kong’s struggle for democracy to millions around the world this week.

In Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower, Wong, now 20, recalled the feelings that propelled the 79 days of protests of 2014, which came to be known as the Umbrella Movement–which is why one of the movie’s promo images shows a figure in black carrying a yellow umbrella and standing on a pile of books, a reference to Wong’s earlier protests over education.

“What we really hope to do is just demand freedom of mind and freedom of speech,” said Wong in the documentary, “”I will never stop until Hong Kong is Hong Kong again.”

The 2014 protests weren’t his first. When he was 13, he protested against a high-speed rail link to mainland China, and then later against the planned introduction of a patriotic curriculum in Hong Kong schools, which was later shelved. In the wake of the protests, he co-founded the pro-independence party Demosisto in April last year and earlier this month he testified before US lawmakers on Hong Kong’s autonomy.

The hour-long documentary will be available to its more than 90 million subscribers this Friday (May 26), just a few weeks before the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China. Netflix got the global rights for the movie earlier this year, after the film, directed by Joe Piscatella, premiered at the Sundance film festival.

In keeping with the “one country two systems” division between China and Hong Kong, the film looks likely to be available to Hong Kong viewers, but is likely to be pretty impossible for people in the mainland to watch. The streaming site isn’t in China but just dipped its feet into that market through a partnership with iQiyi, a local online video platform announced last month—the two are hardly likely to experiment with this particular Netflix original. Netflix didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.


Read next: The most prominent student leader of the territory’s pro-democracy protests is only 17 years old (Sept. 2014)

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