These are all stories of youth. A young man preferred to risk swimming across the raging sea towards a safe haven in order to avoid being caught up in the Cultural Revolution on the mainland. Another young man resisting colonialism was imprisoned for printing patriotic periodicals during the riots, and was long forgotten by the country after his release. A third youth went to Beijing to support students' demands for freedom, only to see their dreams and bodies crushed under the treads of tanks.
The beliefs and ideals held by each generation are eventually submerged by the deluge of history. How do these generations recall, confront, and narrate their irreversible fates?
The film documents three real-life characters who engaged in rebellions when they were young. Through reconstructing these events, the film dramatizes their scarred memories and experiences by using four young people who participated in the 2019 Anti-extradition Law Amendment Movement in Hong Kong. These real protagonists are separated by time and history, yet their lives parallel and overlap, because they have similarly defiant backgrounds and find themselves the same chaotic predicaments.
Images flow between documentary and drama, blending archival materials, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, weaving an expansive tapestry that encompasses these tumultuous eras. How do the young people of this city envision their future today? What do they think about this seemingly unwinnable revolution?
Starting with the apparently futile Umbrella Movement in 2014, director Chan Tze Woon has chosen to document this modern era of defiance. Conceived in 2017 and filmed over 5 years, BLUE ISLAND confronts the large-scale 2019 protests in Hong Kong. A new wave of young people took back the streets, as one generation after another has done throughout Hong Kong’s history. Bullets fly across the alleys. Fires ignite. White tear gas and blue water cannons encroach on public spaces. The past, the present and the future converge within a relentlessly documenting lens.
New Directors New Films 2022
Best Documentary, CAAMfest 2022
Grand Prize & Audience Award, Hot Docs 2022
Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival 2022
"Poignant; shows the heartache and frustration of generations of Hongkongers."
Rachel Ho, POV Magazine
"An interesting blend of documentary and fiction covering the recent years of turmoil in Hong Kong. It’s a bold series of interviews and recreations."
"...as generations rub up against one another, Blue Island becomes essential, a film that offers neither optimism nor pessimism about Hong Kong’s hopes, but a clear-eyed view of what resistance demands of its purest acolytes, and what resistance means for the rest of us."
Dom Sinacola, Paste Magazine