Introduction: Hong Kong independent documentaries and their visibility

Mike Ingham, Kenny K. K. Ng

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial


In their general introduction to the present Special Issue the authors trace the origins of and motivation behind much of the independent documentary filmmaking produced in the city during a period of great sociopolitical turbulence, leading up to the tight censorship protocols put in place after the mainland government’s promulgation of the repressive National Security Law in 2020. With reference to the individual essays that comprise this volume, they chart the sudden and unprecedented rise of documentary filmmaking in Hong Kong following many decades of public indifference to the genre. Limited public and underground screenings that took place before absolute censorship measures were implemented in 2021 showed huge box-office demand for these topical films, reflecting images of ordinary Hong Kong people and their struggle for political representation. This opening essay introduces a range of essays and one interview, mostly in relation to specific films, dealing with the now-contentious coupling of documentary films or television broadcasts and democracy. As the essays indicate, some directors and producers of these observational and participatory documentaries are still active overseas and many of the films discussed can now only be screened outside Hong Kong. Nevertheless, they bear witness to a spirit of resilience and resistance as well as a deep-seated desire for a genuine democracy based on universal suffrage constantly reneged on by the city’s various rulers, from the colonial era until now.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-130
Number of pages14
JournalAsian Cinema
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

User-Defined Keywords

  • censorship
  • citizen-spectator
  • democracy
  • documentary
  • grassroots
  • participatory
  • observational


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