July 1, 2003 marked the sixth anniversary of Hong Kong’s reunification with China. Led by a coalition of democratic groups, a massive and unprecedented public demonstration was called to protest the enactment of the national security law under Article 23 of the basic law, which would repress freedom of press and speech. Documenting the speeches, songs, chants, posters, and banners, as well as the atmosphere, July unequivocally shows individual and mass reactions to the proposed national security legislation: the anger, frustration, and elation when people become united. As in her previous film, Secondary School (also shown at Reel Asian this year), Tammy Cheung follows and intercuts two separate streams. Here, she juxtaposes two massive rallies with radically opposing purposes: one celebrating the anniversary with musical shows and colorful banners, the other defiantly opposing it with heartfelt passion – all taking place simultaneously in the same park. July is a record of events that could not occur anywhere else in China.
Director in attendance
Born in Shanghai and raised in Hong Kong, Tammy Cheung studied Sociology in Hong Kong, and Cinema at Concordia University. Influenced by American filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, she employs an observational, non-intrusive approach characteristic of Wiseman’s Direct Cinema style.