Best Film, 2020 Hong Kong Film Critics Society
Grand Prize, 2021 Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival
After a summer of unprecedented, large-scale demonstrations that drew international support, the Hong Kong protests of 2019 entered a darker phase by fall. Police brutality intensified, as did the surveillance of those fighting for universal suffrage and other rights. In November, college campuses became battlegrounds, with an increasingly militaristic police force facing off against students.
One demonstration spilled onto the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Students, most of whom were protesting peacefully, were surrounded by police guarding all exits, promising to treat surrendering protestors kindly, but convincing none. In the middle of the days-long standoff were journalists and filmmakers ducking tear gas rounds, recording the megaphone banter between capturers and captees, and observing as a student movement began to fray at the impending realization that every remaining option ended in the merciless grip of the police.
Produced by an anonymous collective of Hong Kong filmmakers, INSIDE THE RED BRICK WALL is a devastating work of on-the-ground documentary, filmed with journalistic selflessness, survival instincts, and a sympathy for the escalating human and political stakes of students backed into a corner. With a shockingly matter-of-fact eye and approach to editing, the film lets the images speak for themselves: a flank of umbrellas holding off rubber bullets and shields, a crowd of faceless protesters covered by gas masks or pixelation, and a campus in rubble, no longer recognizable as a space of higher learning.