Documentary on Joshua Wong in Oscar nomination race

November 01, 2017 16:24
A 78-minute firm on Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong is among the titles vying for nomination in the Best Documentary Feature for Oscars next year. Photo: Reuters

"Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower", a film on Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung, is among the titles vying for nomination in the Best Documentary Feature category for next year's Oscar awards.

The film on Wong is among 170 titles that were submitted to the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for documentary feature Oscar consideration, Hollywood trade publications reported.

A shortlist of 15 films will be announced by the Academy in December before the final nominees list is unveiled in January for the March 4, 2018 awards ceremony.

The documentary on Wong, a 78-minute feature directed by Joe Piscatella, was viewed by members of the Oscar nomination committee on Monday in New York, according to Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper.

The main plot of the film is actual documentation of the time when Joshua had started political group Scholarism back when he was 15 and fought against the Civic Education programs proposed by the government, and subsequently in the Occupy Central protests in 2014.

The documentary has already won the audience award in the World Cinema Documentary category in January this year, and will now compete for next year’s Academy Awards in the Best Documentary Feature category.

With the help of Hollywood star and civil rights activist Richard Gere, the Wong film was screened by some members from the nomination committee and received a standing ovation at the end, according to the report.

Wong, who had just been released on bail last week, appeared on screen via a conference video and shared his experience in jail for 69 days.

He said his time in prison has made him more determined to fight for democracy, and that he is ready to go back to jail.

"This is only round two. We're not afraid of Xi Jinping, it’s time to stand up and fight," he said.

The documentary, towards the end, mentions how Nathan Law Kwun-chung had become the youngest legislator in Hong Kong only to get disqualified in July and sentenced to jail like Wong.

Wong hopes the documentary can help raise awareness in the international community that Hong Kong is determined to fight for democracy.

"They can lock me up but they can’t lock up my determination, this is a long war to wage," he said.

Director Piscatella was present at the screening session for the Oscar committee, as was the documentary's executive producer, Andrew Duncan. 

Apple Daily quoted Piscatella as saying that he had known about Wong and other members of the Scholarism student group for some time, and that he believes the youth activists have the ability to inspire others.

"The special thing about Wong is that he has never shirked because of his age or because of the fact that he lacks 'permission'; he just goes for what he wants."

Duncan said that when US President Donald Trump visits China, he should bring up the topic of Wong and remind Beijing that it needs to uphold human rights.

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