Screenings & Films

Be Water: Civil Disobedience and the Fight for Democracy in Hong Kong

SF Urban Film Fest   |  

February 3, 2020, 6:30 PM

A curatorial collaboration with Alex Yong Kang Chow, a former Hong Kong student activist sentenced to prison for seven months for his political participation in the 2014 Umbrella Movement and current UC Berkeley Geography PhD student, this program brings together films, performance, and discussion that prioritize the lived experience of protesters. Stuck between its British colonial past and a future ruled by communist China, Hong Kong’s young people are taking to the streets to fight for the autonomy and democracy they were promised. Attitudes to resistance, protest strategy, and tactics differ between generations and the leaderless demonstrators themselves. How do they manage the nuances of building a democratic movement? How are they using creative strategies in the arts, with technology, and in the streets as crucial communication tactics?


Brian Ng, poet, tech worker, Editor for Lausan
Alex Yong Kang Chow, UC Berkeley Phd Geography student, former VP of HK University Students’ Union
Conversations with Courage
Bauhinia Project Poets


Mong Kok First Aid (USA/Hong Kong, 2019, 20 mins) by Mavis Siu

Mong Kok First Aid 成年禮 investigates the experiences and unheard stories of a group of young volunteers who provided first aid services to wounded participants during Hong Kong’s landmark Umbrella Movement of 2014. Just half a decade later, their first-person narratives reveal an intense feeling of time passing and memories fading, and this documentary seeks to challenge history by intervening to supplement the record. After all, who decides whose story can be a part of history?

Migrant Down the Rabbit Hole (Hong Kong, 2020, 16 mins) by Lee Wai Kwan and Yip Man Hay

Maid Arista, an Indonesian woman in Hong Kong, falls into a rabbit hole and finds herself reporting the anti-extradition movement every Sunday. Stories of protestors recall the memories of her lost hope.

Old Running Men (Hong Kong, 2020, 10 mins) by Willis Ho Kit Wang

Grandpa Chan, 73, and Grandpa Wong, 82, run into the mist of tear gas and try to protect young protestors from harm. With all the dangers and hardships they have been through, to them retreat is never an option.

Age of the Valiant (Hong Kong, 2020, 11 mins) by Willis Ho Kit Wang and Lo Chun-Yip

Two valiant youngsters take to the street for the freedom and future of Hong Kong, even if it would mean 10 years in jail.



About SF Urban Film Fest

SF Urban Film Fest gathers a diverse, engaged audience and uses the power of storytelling to spark discussion and civic engagement around urban issues, asking what it means to live together in the city and make urban planning more equitable and inclusive.

The SF Urban Film Fest theme for 2020 explores Place and the Populist Revolt, investigating how cities are ground zero for the struggle to find or hold on to a place, for both incumbents and newly arrived. But even as there are attempts to build walls and to exclude others, the human spirit lives in expressions of belonging and resistance to exclusion. Each film screening is followed by a discussion around developing community-centered solutions to ground audiences in the spirit of place.

More about SF Urban Film Fest here →