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#HotDocs23 Review: Who’s Afraid of Nathan Law?

May 8, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The 2023 Hot Docs Film Festival ran from April 27th to May 7th in Toronto, more information on tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

The documentary Who’s Afraid of Nathan Law? offers a solid introduction to pro-democracy activist Nathan Law, as it provides an engaging overview of his central role in the student uprisings in Hong Kong, from the 2014 Umbrella Revolution to the 2019 protests against the extradition law being brought down by mainland China.

The film charts how Law, a quiet college student, became involved with student activists Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, and helped provide crucial organizational work behind the scenes of the 2014 protests to uphold Beijing’s “one country, two systems” promise. Law subsequently became the youngest person elected to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council at the age of 23 in 2016, before being kicked out of the legislature less than a year later.

The film is directed by Joe Piscatella, who previously profiled Wong in his 2017 documentary Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower. Piscatella gains incredible access to Law, who was forced to flee Hong Kong due to his involvement in the 2019 uprising, which made him one of China’s most wanted men. If Who’s Afraid of Nathan Law? doesn’t necessarily offer a ton of new revelations for those of us who followed these protests, it does serve as an engaging introduction to him as a person and his fearless activism work.

Through Law’s story, we get an urgent portrait of how fragile democracy is, and the bravery of these young people who stood up against a superpower in a fight to protect it, regardless of the outcome. I hope more people are able to watch this film.

Screenings: No more festival screenings.

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