Raise the Umbrellas: SPECIAL PREVIEW

On Saturday 22 April, Te Uru will host two special film screenings in response to the exhibition Picturing Asia: Double Take: The Photography of Brian Brake and Steve McCurry, co-presented by Auckland Arts Festival and Te Uru. As a special preview, Te Uru presents Evans Chan’s Raise the Umbrellas before an evening screening of the 1954 Japanese epic historical film Seven Samurai co-written, edited, and directed by Akira Kurosawa.

Raise the Umbrellas is hailed as “the most comprehensive documentary” about Hong Kong’s 2014 Umbrella Movement. This film explores the Occupy protest’s origin and impact through the inter-generational lenses of three post-Tiananmen democratic activists – Martin Lee, founder of the Hong Kong Democratic party; Benny Tai, Occupy Central initiator; and Joshua Wong, the sprightly student leader  – along with voices from “umbrella mothers,” student occupiers, star politicians (Emily Lau and Leung Kwok-hung), prominent media professionals (Jimmy Lai, Ching Cheong), international scholars (Andrew Nathan, Arif Dirlik, Ho-fung Hung) and activist LGBT Canton-pop icons Denise Ho and Anthony Wong. Incisive and intimate, driven by stirring on-site footage in a major Asian metropolis riven by protest, Umbrellas reveals the Movement’s eco-awareness, gay activism, and burgeoning localism. Various anti-Occupy views, underscored by an interview with the pro-Beijing heavyweight Jasper Tsang, lays bare the sheer political risk for post-colonial Hong Kong’s universal-suffragists striving to define its autonomy within China.

Film scholar Michael Berry has called Evans Chan “one of the most singularly innovative and diverse figures in the Chinese cultural world.” Chan is a New York-based critic, playwright, and one of Hong Kong’s leading independent filmmakers. He has made four narrative features and eight documentaries, including Crossings (1994), Journey to Beijing (1998), The Map of Sex and Love (2001), Bauhinia (2002), The Life and Times of Wu Zhongxian (2003), Margaret Leng Tan: Sorceress of the New Piano (2004), and The Rose of the Name: Writing Hong Kong (2014). Time Out Hong Kong (March, 2012) has named Chan’s directorial debut, To Liv(e) (1991), one of the 100 Greatest Hong Kong Films. His docu-drama about Kang Youwei, Datong: The Great Society, received the 2011 Chinese-language Movie of the Year Award, presented by Southern Metropolitan Daily, for “returning fuller memories and humanity to Chinese history.” Chan’s award-winning films have been shown at the Berlin, Rotterdam, London, Moscow, Vancouver, San Francisco and Taiwan Golden Horse film festivals, among others. Sorceress of the New Piano screened at the 2005 New Zealand International Film Festival.

A contributor to CritiqueAsian CinemaFilm InternationalPostmodern CultureCinemaya, and various anthologies, Chan is the editor/translator into Chinese of three books by Susan Sontag. Postcolonalism, Diaspora, and Alternative Histories: The Cinema of Evans Chan, a critical anthology about Chan’s works was published by the Hong Kong University Press in 2015.  Chan obtained his PhD in Screen Culture at Northwestern University.

See the film trailer for Raise the Umbrellas here

Picturing Asia: Double Take is supported by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Te Papa gratefully acknowledges the gift of the Brian Brake Collection by Wai-man Lau.

Photo courtesy of P H Yang Photography 攝影; 楊必興 | phyang.org

22 April, 1-1pm


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