Netflix to feature documentary on HK activist Joshua Wong

Video-streaming giant Netflix has acquired the distribution rights for a documentary about Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong.

The film chronicles his political life focusing on his role in the 2014 protests which made him an icon at 16. Hong Kong’s so-called Umbrella Movement demanded universal suffrage for the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. Currently, the leader of the city is elected by a 1,200 member committee, seen as pro-Beijing.

In unprecedented scenes, the 2014 protests saw the streets of central Hong Kong filled and blocked by angry crowds demanding a fully democratic selection process. At the time Joshua Wong, one of the student leaders, was held up as the unofficial “poster boy” of the movement and even made it to the cover of Time Magazine.

The documentary will be available to Netflix’s 93 million subscribers worldwide, but not in China where the service is not available.

“Courage, resilience and youthful idealism”

The deal was announced days after the premiere of “Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower” at the Sundance Film Festival on 20 January.  Directed by Joe Piscatella, the documentary follows Mr Wong, now 20-years-old, from 2012 to 2016.After winning no concessions from the Chinese government, Mr Wong’s latest political move has been the establishment of his political party “Demosisto”. In a press release, Netflix describes the documentary as “a remarkable portrait of courage, resilience and youthful idealism”.

“In an era where we are witnessing heightened civic participation and freedom of expression, we are pleased to offer a global platform for audiences to engage on these issues,” says Netflix VP of Original Documentaries Lisa Nishimura.

Andrew Duncan, one of the documentary’s producers, says: “Their global platform will allow us to share Joshua’s message about the importance of due process of law and freedom of speech with a worldwide audience.”

According to Hollywood Reporter, the rights were sold “in the low-seven-figure range”.

In a letter to shareholders dated October 17, 2016, Netflix said: “We now plan to license content to existing online service providers in China rather than operate our own service in China in the near term.”

“The regulatory environment for foreign digital content services in China has become challenging.”

Netflix said it hoped to launch the service in China eventually, but did not say when.



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