Hot Docs 2023: “Who’s Afraid of Nathan Law?”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Youth and the younger generation have always been catalysts of change in the course of history through their actions. Chinese Students in Tiananmen Square in 1989 demanded democratic reforms and greater freedoms. Children Coal Miners marched from Philadelphia to New York in 1903 to protest against child labor. In 2018, high school students across the United States, for that matter, in Florida alone, began their march for lives as they were looking for a solution to gun violence in their schools. Therefore, what happened in Hong Kong, when the Extradition Law by the Chinese Government was announced, should not have come as a surprise.

Directed by Joe Piscatella, “Who’s Afraid of Nathan Law” is a gut-punching documentary that revolves around the young leader named Nathan Law, who, at 21, became the leader of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution. It chronicles the world’s most fascinating public outrage that showed that once there is a will, the needed outcome will come. Even though the Chinese Government came up with another way to suppress the voices of those that could challenge their authoritarian regime, people like Nathan Law, Agnes Chow, and Joshua Wong are living proof – the fight against the strong and powerful is possible. But will the outcome be what is good for the public?

Archival footage, nail-biting storytelling, and an authentic approach to what shattered the world is astounding. Filmmaker Joe Piscatella came up with the best approach possible to tackle the pressing part of the history of Hong Kong and how people went out, including students, to fight against injustice and the Extradition Law. The film captures police brutality, harrowing stories, and an insightful interview with Nathan Law that explains why democracy is so fragile. It can take time to build it, but easy to destroy. Can it be compared to a sand castle? After what you will see and learn, your answer will be – most definitely.

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