Everyday Activist - Hooligan Sparrow (CIFF 2016)

Posted on Friday, September 23, 2016 at 11:00 PM

Hooligan Sparrow (CIFF 2016)

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

Definitely a film for mature audiences, but one everyone should watch if they have the stomach for it. China doesn’t have the best human rights record, whether it’s persecuting Uyghurs, Falun Da Fa practitioners or in the case of this film women and children. Through the power of documentary filmmaking people around the world learn about these crimes. Hooligan Sparrow was already a well-known human rights activist in China and abroad before this documentary. In one of her projects she offered sex for free as a way to understand what sex workers went through in order to help them by doing small things such as distributing condoms. In this latest protest, she and her friends, including a human rights lawyer, gather to bring attention to six school girls who had been raped by their principle and a government official.

Take a minute to digest that. I reviewed Human Harvest where Chinese people had their organs removed while they were still alive and yet somehow this crime feels worse, because it involves someone the girls should trust. Why would they think anything so terrible would happen to them? Because the Chinese government was involved, they mobilized their forces within the police and civilian ranks to make life difficult for the protesters and for the parents of the children. Hooligan Sparrow was constantly evicted from living spaces, beaten and spent time in a detention center. Her friends also spent time in jail. The film maker, Nanfu Wang who comes from the U.S into China to film Hooligan Sparrow, also comes under attack. How she managed to smuggle the footage out of China to make this documentary, is a miracle given amount of surveillance.

At the beginning of the film Wang shows a photo of Hooligan Sparrow with the famous Chinese activist/artist Awei Wei. To learn more about Awei Wei and his struggles with the Chinese government, Netflix has a great documentary that I’ve meant to review. Wang closes the film with an exhibition of his in the US where a replica of the scene Hooligan Sparrow experienced during one of her evictions, on the side of the road with all her belongings, is on display. Art has the power to change perceptions and bring attention to critical issues even if they happen across oceans.

Documentary film making remains one of the best tools activists have to broadcast their messages to the world. The Calgary International Film Festival has done a good job helping female activists/documentary filmmakers voice their concerns on the world stage. The next ones on my review list feature a Canadian woman fighting to protect her heritage in Angry Inuk and yet another Canadian film talks about racism against indigenous people in We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice. In the meantime, Hooligan Sparrow will be shown Saturday Sep 24, 4:30 pm at Cineplex Eau Claire and Monday Sep 26, 10:15 pm at Cineplex Eau Claire 2. Enjoy, but please be prepared for explicit scenes, nudity, coarse language, violence and disturbing content.  

Calgary Showtimes: 17th Calgary International Film Festival 2016 > | Hooligan Sparrow >


NOTE: The showtimes listed on CalgaryMovies.com come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to CalgaryMovies.com.