Kiwi Chow Won Best Documentary at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards

Kiwi Chow.
Hong Kong director Kiwi Chow wants his film to act as an “emotional vent” for Hongkongers amid “trauma” from the 2019 unrests and fears arising from the national security law. (Image: Kelly Ho via HKFP)

The film Revolution of Our Times won the Golden Horse Awards for best documentary in Taiwan. Award-winning director Kiwi Chow shared his acceptance speech. The film putting Hong Kong on the movie world map drew widespread attention. When the chairman announced Revolution of Our Times won the best documentary prize, the audience applauded enthusiastically for 10 seconds. The film moved Taiwan’s audiences and caused a great reverberation globally. Director Chow said: “My initial mentality was to present it to foreigners, but, currently, I want to show it to Hong Kong people.” 

Regarding the award, Kiwi Chow said: “I have anticipated it psychologically, adding many favorable comments from Taiwan, which made me a little nervous and eager to win the award. Some people asked me whether it was appropriate to say congratulations, but it was a painful thing and made many people endure massive suffering.” 

Winning the prize meant Taiwan’s people recognized the film

Kiwi Chow added “that winning the prize meant Taiwan’s people recognized the film, and they will remember and pay attention to it.” So he believed the film brought Hong Kong people comfort, and he strongly hoped they could watch it. Meanwhile, he was thankful to Taiwan for giving the film recognition. 

“I saw many people sharing this report and their comments on the Internet. All comments were about how they were moved. These things made me feel a sense of being highly proactive and uniting together. Everyone seemed to earn comfort from receiving recognition of the prize.”  

'Revolution of Our Times.'
The best documentary award was won by Hong Kong’s banned film ‘Revolution of Our Times.’ (Image: via Twitter)

Record the truth to tell Hong Kong people and the world 

The film is two and a half hours long. “Initially, I hoped to tell the white paper’s audiences the entire campaign or the Hong Kong problem clearly as I have already had this thinking from the beginning. I wanted to show what happened in Hong Kong to the world’s people but not just our Hong Kong people.

Kiwi Chow said that two years have passed, and he, currently, had another thought, and he hoped Hong Kong people could see the truth reflected in Revolution of Our Times. Initially, he thought Hong Kong people clearly understood it, and many media or reporters have covered it.  

“However, two years later, such voices, such footage, and even the truth-telling media, such as Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) and Apple Daily, have been silenced. The business conglomerate even has been severely suppressed and ruined.”   

He was aware that Hong Kong seemed to have no voice, and the historical records were possibly even sealed, making him have a sense of crisis. 

Kiwi Chow said that the film rights had been taken care of by people overseas, but the film would be openly released at public places next month in the United States with many screenings. That would be the premiere at a non-film festival. 

“My initial wish is to hope foreigners will watch the film, but now I want to present it to Hong Kong people. So even if Hong Kong cannot see it currently, releasing it to the world is still very important.”  

Regarding whether there will be any space and possibility to create similar documentaries in Hong Kong in the future, Kiwi Chow said: “There has been no such a space in the environment, but the individual choice still has space.” As creation does not depend on the environmental quality but the spiritual beliefs, people will have the courage to overcome environmental restrictions if they have spiritual beliefs. 

Overcome fear by facing it, pursue spiritual freedom rather than personal safety

“Personally, as a film creator in Hong Kong, staying here to experience that atmosphere and face collective trauma or pressure has been worth it to do. Hong Kong is the place to raise me. This place belongs to me. I am a native of Hong Kong, and I want to live here. As many Hong Kong citizens suffer, I want to stay together with them. But it seems that I need such an opportunity to express myself or examine my value and mission, which is also a way to face fear. Sticking in Hong Kong is a fear, but leaving Hong Kong is another fear. What I seek is not personal safety but spiritual freedom. When you have fear, you need to face and conquer it. Burying your head in the sand cannot overcome it. So, I will remain in Hong Kong now.

“My mind is peaceful, and I keep doing my job. In case something happens, I have prepared for it in my mind. I try not to think about it too much. If not, I cannot live. Anyway, I have been staying in Hong Kong.”

Kiwi Chow talked about his beliefs. He prayed throughout the process with faith as if he had a dialogue with God, and God led him. 

“If the interviewee were not those of Ten Years and Revolution of Our Times, they might not trust me so much. Meanwhile, the trust made me feel I had the status and mission to do something.” On deciding whether he disclosed his real name in the film or not, Kiwi Chow struggled a lot and cried for a few days because he was so afraid. 

He thought: “If I don’t put my name to the film, then it needs someone else to hold me accountable. Because I have to be responsible for myself, and if other people help me, they may go to jail instead of me. It is very horrible to me.” He failed to fall asleep that night. Finally, he fell asleep and had a dream. 

Kiwi Chow using his camcorder.
Kiwi Chow and the camcorder he used on the first day of filming his documentary ‘Revolution of Our Times.’ (Image: Kelly Ho via HKFP)

Driven by a sense of responsibility, Kiwi Chow was determined to reveal his real name publicly

“I dreamt of one of my primary school’s teachers, called Xian. We haven’t contacted each other for a long time. Surprisingly, I dreamt of a teacher more than 30 years ago. When I was a child, I felt inferior. But he praised me that I had a heavy sense of responsibility. That was my first time getting the thumbs up from others in my life. At the time, I was a child, so the teacher’s words influenced me significantly. I dreamt that he was chatting with my wife and family in a very safe and quiet environment. Many police officers surrounded us, but we were very safe as in the eye of the storm. I suddenly realized that Heavenly Father seemed to remind me that I am a man with responsibility. Since I have done the job, I need to take responsibility. So, in my dream, I decided to show my real name in the film, stay in Hong Kong, and keep going all the way.

“That’s what I expect for Hong Kong. Miracles will happen continuously.” In terms of what the real Hong Kong was, Kiwi Chow said it was hard to answer because Hong Kong changed unceasingly. “Firstly, we need to acknowledge that Hong Kong is not a place where we were familiar with the past. Although Hong Kong had many miracles in the past, we lost them.” However, he hoped new miracles would occur in the future. 

“I believe all media are kind, and so they have value. I also seek that kind of value. So regarding documentaries in recording the historical truth, I believe it is valuable, powerful, and worthwhile. Even if I cannot see any great effects now, I still believe that righteousness and kindness are worth doing and even sticking with it.” 

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