Before the first images, a text warns on the screen that the faces of the protagonists of the film will appear for the most part entirely masked and that their voices have been modified. Others, to testify, have chosen pseudonyms or are played by actors. The end credits inform that it is incomplete and that the names entered have been changed in order to protect the technical team. The spectator, at that moment, is stunned, body almost broken, after two and a half hours of barricades, tear gas, gunfire, flames, beatings, screams, tears and blood.
All that had to face, in 2019 and for months, hundreds of thousands (up to two million) of Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrators determined to lead their revolution against the government and the Chinese tutelary power. Subjected to police repression of unprecedented violence and brutality, the youth, supported by older people, held out for months. It is this struggle at the heart of the clashes that filmed, from June to November 2019, the Hong Kong-born filmmaker Kiwi Chow (with the help of other directors with no names), including the highly political documentary film, Revolution of Our Times, was added, at the very last minute, Friday July 16, to the program of the Cannes Film Festival.
Before the screening, the festival’s general delegate, Thierry Frémaux, denied having wanted to play the surprise and did not wish to validate the thesis according to which the late and almost secret arrival of the film would have been deliberately planned in the aim to protect the filmmaker. “The film, on which we were committed from the first images sent to us, quite simply was not ready for Cannes. And we found out it was just a few days ago. We are happy and proud to present this film in Cannes, to show an important moment of world events. “
The filmmaker, who expressed his “Deep gratitude to Cannes”, says he made this film to try to help the movement to live. “Having a premiere at this festival is a good opportunity to let the world know that there are still people who persist in Hong Kong”, he told Reuters. This presence here will be a comfort to many Hong Kongers. “
The Hong Kong government recently issued new guidelines allowing authorities to censor films in the name of safeguarding national security. Among the protesters seen in Revolution of Our Times, hundreds were arrested and imprisoned, some went into exile. And many others, the film crew has no news. In Cannes, their voices were heard.