84' / 2016 / China
English and spanish subtitled
Audience vote 7.83
The danger is palpable as intrepid young filmmaker Nanfu Wang follows maverick activist Ye Haiyan (a.k.a Hooligan Sparrow) and her band of colleagues to Hainan Province in southern China, to protest the case of six elementary school girls who were sexually abused by their principal. Marked as enemies of the state, the activists are under constant government surveillance and face interrogation, harassment, and imprisonment. Sparrow, who gained notoriety with her advocacy work for sex workers’ rights, continues to champion girls’ and women’s rights and arms herself with the power and reach of social media.
Filmmaker Wang becomes a target along with Sparrow, as she faces destroyed cameras and intimidation. Yet she bravely and tenaciously keeps shooting, guerrilla-style, with secret recording devices and hidden-camera glasses, and in the process, she exposes a startling number of undercover security agents on the streets. Eventually, through smuggling footage out of the country, Wang is able tell the story of her journey with the extraordinary revolutionary Sparrow, her fellow activists, and their seemingly impossible battle for human rights.
Sundance Film Festival (world documentary competition), USA, 2016
Human Rights Watch Film Festival (opening night film), London, UK, 2016
Nanfu Wang is an independent filmmaker based in New York City. Wang was born in a remote farming village in Jiangxi Province, China. After losing her father at the age of 12, Wang was forced to forgo formal education and take whatever work she could to support her family. Unable to afford high school, she studied at a vocational school until she secured work as a teacher at a primary school at the age of 16, teaching herself English during her spare time.
After several years of working, Wang was admitted to a university’s Continuing Education Program, where she studied English literature. At the age of 22, she was awarded a full fellowship to attend a graduate program in English Language and Literature at Shanghai University. Realizing that she wanted to help tell the stories of people who came from backgrounds like hers, Wang decided to pursue graduate film studies, first in the journalism school at Ohio University and later at New York University’s documentary program. Wang holds three master degrees from New York University, Ohio University, and Shanghai University. Since completing her studies, Wang has produced short films that have been distributed on many platforms and translated into several languages. Her work often features the stories of marginalized or mistreated people. Wang continues to seek out and tell the stories of people who have been ignored by their societies. Hooligan Sparrow is Wang’s feature debut. Wang is a recipient of the Sundance Documentary Fund and Bertha Britdoc Journalism Fund, and a Sundance and IFP supported filmmaker.
|Screenplay:||Nanfu Wang Mark Monroe|
|Music:||Nathan Halpern, Chris Ruggiero|
|Production:||Little Horse Crossing the River|
|Producers:||Nanfu Wang, Andy Cohen, Alison Klayman|
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2016: Sundance, International Film Festival and Forum On Human Rights, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Thessaloniki Documentary Festival