A film about the pro-democracy protests that rocked Hong Kong in 2019 broke a box office record in Taiwan for an overseas Chinese-language documentary in the first fortnight of its release.
Revolution of Our Times, directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Kiwi Chow and which premiered at the Cannes film festival last year, grossed around NTD$17 million (US$600,000) on Wednesday, the film’s distributor said. .
Released in Taiwan on February 25, the film was screened in around 40 theaters across Taiwan, with some customers booking entire theaters to screen the film for free. He even got the support of the president, Tsai Ing-wen.
“The courage and commitment of the people of Hong Kong to democracy is an inspiration to us all as we work to preserve our own freedoms and way of life,” Tsai tweeted on Wednesday.
The documentary chronicles months of mass protests in Hong Kong that saw millions take to the streets to demonstrate against an extradition bill that many feared had exposed Hong Kongers to China’s opaque legal system. .
The protests, which at times turned into violent clashes between young protesters and police, prompted Beijing to impose a national security law that observers say has been used to stifle any sign of dissent and dismantle civil society in the town.
Chow, who remained in Hong Kong and was unable to see his own film in theaters, described the film’s success in Taiwan as a source of comfort. “It’s almost like a kind of hug…that so many people are willing to listen to the will and desire of Hong Kong people. I feel a sense of comfort, a sense of power in our unity.
He added that he was both envious and grateful. No public screening was possible in Hong Kong due to national security law.
“As a director of the Revolution of our time, I have never been able to see my own creation on the big screen. So I’m very envious of Taiwanese and foreigners who can see it in the cinema… I also hope that I can see it with everyone on the big screen. I look forward to that day,” he said.
The aftermath of the Hong Kong protests was watched cautiously across the Taiwan Strait, where some Taiwanese saw a warning for their own future. Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to “unify” Taiwan with China, by force if necessary.
“I think with these projections, the most important thing is not to get people to focus on Hong Kong, the most important thing is that they focus on Taiwan, their home,” Chow said.
Screenings of the documentary are also taking place in various cities across the UK and Canada. The filmmaker said he hopes the film can hold meaning and value for people around the world. “Even in democratic countries, freedom can be lost,” he said.