Twenty years on : Hong Kong dissident documentarians and the Tiananmen factor


*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This article will explore how voices of dissent are articulated within a highly marginalised but vibrantly independent Hong Kong documentary film practice. In view of the city’s almost clichéd East-West hybrid identity, its fluctuating fortunes and its current political transition process, it is unsurprising that Hong Kong documentary makers have made a significant though largely under-estimated contribution to the city’s political, social and cultural discourse. Following recent research on Hong Kong documentary film history, it is clear that much of the Territory’s documentary history reveals two major stimuli to its documentary film-making: namely government authorisation and patronage and, on the other hand, patriotic concern for the mainland on the part of independent film-makers. As I will argue, the Tiananmen massacre or ‘incident’ that occurred over twenty years ago proved a watershed in Hong Kong’s documentary film-making. In effect it broke the mould, by introducing a strongly dissident and sceptical strain among documentarians vis-à-vis relations with the China Mainland. This dissident strain has generally been neglected in critical discourses on Hong Kong cinema, a neglect that the present article seeks to remedy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-97
Number of pages17
JournalStudies in Documentary Film
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

Bibliographical note

This article was given in a considerably shorter form as part of the opening panel on Hong Kong Film at the Documentary Film Conference: Hong Kong, the Regional Context and Theoretical Perspectives at the Hong Kong Baptist University on Monday 25 May 2009.


  • Dissident
  • Independent
  • Local identity
  • Sinicisation
  • Tiananmen
  • Transnationalisation
  • Truth claims


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