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Follow a group of activists led by Ye Haiyan (Sparrow) across southern China as they seek justice for six elementary school girls who were sexually abused by their school principal and another government official. Sparrow becomes an enemy of the state, harassed by the secret police and hounded from town to town. But detentions, interrogations, and evictions can’t stop her protest from going viral. First time filmmaker Nanfu Wang also becomes a target, suffering intimidation and destroyed equipment. Against great odds, she keeps shooting with hidden cameras and secret recording devices, smuggling the footage out of the country. A powerful portrait of what it takes to defend human rights in China today.
Director’s Statement: Nanfu Wang
Ye Haiyan had a long history of advocating for women’s rights in China, and I asked her and the other activists if I could follow them and record what happened at the protest. The chain of events I witnessed in the months that followed shocked me. I’ve never had illusions about fairness in China’s justice system or the accountability of its government. But I never expected to see ordinary people turn on their neighbors who were fighting for their rights. I never expected to be attacked by screaming mobs just for filming on the street. I never expected to be interrogated by national security agents, and that my family and friends would be harassed and threatened by secret police. But this is the China I saw.