An intergenerational story of a grandfather’s perilous swim from China to Hong Kong during the Cultural Revolution rhythmically paralleled with his granddaughter’s participation in mass protests now and the building pressure for her to escape Hong Kong as the Security Laws set in.
A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing
FREEDOM SWIMMER follows the story of one man’s decade of failed attempts, and subsequent escape from mainland China to Hong Kong in the 1970’s. It also interweaves the experiences of those protesting on the streets of Hong Kong recently.
Themes explored include the Universal issue of migration and asylum or refuge from conflict and violations of human rights. Right now 79.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes across the world.
The film also explores the impact of past cultural trauma on the present.
Central to the film is the rooted concept of ‘freedom’ in contemporary Hong Kong.
Other issues explored are:
i. transfer of sovereignty and adjustment from open democracy to authoritarian rule.
ii. Self-censorship and the fear of retribution.
iii. Inter-generational relationships with China in Hong Kong.
iv. The lack of awareness about a major migratory story in Hong Kong’s recent history and the preservation of these voices.
v. China’s new National Security Law.
What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?
FREEDOM SWIMMER is a personal, intergenerational story about one of the most significant stories in Hong Kong’s recent history. It’s a story of escape for some 2 million people from the mainland, and the lost testimonies of a further 3 million people. The film allows the audience to see the present situation in Hong Kong through a different lens to the one portrayed in the wider media. We want the film to look to the past, to offer insight to the present.
What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?
i. Greater empathy for Hong Kong’s history, its concept of freedom - and a population’s grief at the threat of losing it.
ii. Better understanding of divergent generational perceptions of the current protests, due to their differing histories.
iii. Broader capacity for a wider, global conversation about migration and refugee status
iv. Interrogate concepts of censorship and self-censorship, fear of retribution and freedom of expression.
v. Consider cycles of trauma, fear and oppression – appreciating history’s influence on the present, to understand a wider story.
How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?
We hope that the documentary opens up important conversations around the key themes it explores.
How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?
Our interviewees have been given the chance to share their story, one that resonates with a lot of other people in Hong Kong.
Audience Engagement and Social Impact
What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?
We hope that the film contributes to the audience engaging in important conversations about the themes it explores.
Measurement and Evaluation
What is the projects indicators for success?
In the first instance, raising the financing necessary to complete the film. Once the film is complete, having healthy and wide ranging festival participation is key. After festival release demand for broadcast and screenings are our objectives.