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Taking Back the Legislature

Taking Back the Legislature

TAKING BACK THE LEGISLATURE unspools over the course of a single day – one that marked a critical moment in the 2019 Hong Kong protests against the new extradition law.

On July 1, Hong Kong marked the 22nd anniversary of the territory’s handover from the UK to China. But this time, the ceremonies were overshadowed by the deaths of three protesters. What had begun as demonstrations against a new extradition law swelled into a broader pro-democracy movement.

Made by an anonymous collective, TAKING BACK THE LEGISLATURE documents the movement from the inside, filming from within the heart of the demonstrations, as the mostly young protesters decide to storm and then occupy the assembly. Pro-democracy legislators try to dissuade them, arguing they are needlessly putting themselves in danger. Eventually, after battering at the building’s glass for hours, the demonstrators enter and take over the legislative chamber.

TAKING BACK THE LEGISLATURE is an important historical document, offering insights into the dynamics of the occupation. Demonstrators vote on key decisions, and argue the merits of remaining in the building after many decide to leave. (At a certain point one of them notes they are outnumbered by journalists.) In one remarkable moment, a woman with a megaphone buys time for protesters to escape – facing down riot police and telling them to slow their heart-rates, calm down, and not allow themselves to be ruled by emotion. Moments later, at midnight, chaos erupts as the riot police fire tear gas, chasing down and beating the young people – an escalation that would help usher in the months of protest that followed.

This film is a companion to INSIDE THE RED BRICK WALL, made by the same anonymous collective, on the November 2019 siege of Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

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