The intense struggle of Hong Kong people against the extradition law (On September 4, Chief Executive Carrie Lam officially promised to withdraw the bill upon the resumption of the legislative session from its summer recess) could not leave local filmmakers unmoved, and after Yeh Ka Lun’s “Who’s Next, that dealt with the consequences of the law on “everyday” people, Chi Him Yuen does the same in the school environment, with another approach in the style of “Ten Years”.
The story takes place on May 25th, 2021, the 657th day since the passing of the amendment to the extradition law. The father of a high school girl, Ching, who happened to be a journalist, has been extradited and she decides to make a post on social media asking “Where are human rights? Where are due processes of law?”. Her post catches the attention of her school’s social worker, Yu, who talks with the girl and tries to help her by introducing her to a social group offering support for this kind of cases. Ching becomes hopeful despite her situation, but eventually the school administration takes over her case, with awful consequences for the girl.
Chi Him Yuen deals with the repercussions of the law in quite pointy fashion, highlighting them on a number of levels. The fact that Yu’s husband is scared about her actions in helping the girl is one, through which he also makes a point of showing that the government may monitor the smart phones of people who are considered “dangerous”. The fact that there are people willing to help but cannot do anything in the face of the “big bully” is the more central one, as we watch the school principal and a member of the faculty pragmatically saying to Yu that she cannot do anything for Ching, due to the consequences both her and the school will suffer.
The fact that Chi Him Yuen has the scene unfolding under a writing from the Bible stating “And you will have knowledge of what is true and that will make you free John 8:32” is a rather direct and pointy comment, and the most visually impressive sequence in the film, along with the one that has Ching picking in Yu’s classroom. These two scenes are the apogee of the excellent job Li Hok Fun did in the cinematography of the movie.
The role schools play regarding the Extradition Law is the main source of critique of the short, with Chi Him Yuen highlighting the fact that the people who run it, and subsequently other parents, only care for saving the school’s and, in essence, their own skin, not shying away from “sacrificing” young students in the process. In that regard, when one watches the director of the school saying “We have no other options” one can only feel disgust in his lack of resolve and his willingness to kowtow to the authorities to the expense of a child.
Lastly, the fact that the law could become retroactive and the consequences something like that could have, receives its share of critique, as is the case with the role social media play in the whole concept of “government monitoring citizens”.
The acting in the short is quite good, headed by an impressive Anna Leong as Yu, who highlights her eagerness to help and the subsequent hopelessness of realizing she cannot, in the best fashion.
Overall, Chi Him Yuen has managed to shoot a film that manages to make a plethora of serious comments in just ten minutes, and that is where the value of the film lies.