The danger is palpable as intrepid young filmmaker Nanfu Wang follows maverick activist Ye Haiyan (a.k.a Hooligan Sparrow) and her band of colleagues to Hainan Province in southern China to protest the case of six elementary school girls who were sexually abused by their principal. Marked as enemies of the state, the activists are under constant government surveillance and face interrogation, harassment, and imprisonment. Sparrow, who gained notoriety with her advocacy work for sex workers’ rights, continues to champion girls’ and women’s rights and arms herself with the power and reach of social media.
Filmmaker Wang becomes a target along with Sparrow, as she faces destroyed cameras and intimidation. Yet she bravely and tenaciously keeps shooting, guerrilla-style, with secret recording devices and hidden-camera glasses, and in the process, she exposes a startling number of undercover security agents on the streets. Eventually, through smuggling footage out of the country, Wang is able tell the story of her journey with the extraordinary revolutionary Sparrow, her fellow activists, and their seemingly impossible battle for human rights.
Nanfu Wang is a filmmaker based in New York City. Originally from a remote village in China, Wang overcame poverty and lack of access to formal secondary education. Her work often features the stories of marginalized or mistreated people. From Chinese blood donors stricken with HIV from used government-issued needles to the left-behind children of migrant laborers, Wang’s short films have been distributed on many platforms and translated into several languages. Wang is a recipient of a Sundance postproduction grant, Bertha Britdoc Journalism Fund, a Sundance Documentary Fellow, and an IFP supported filmmaker. Her feature debut Hooligan Sparrow has so far received support from Sundance Institute, IFP, IDA, and BRITDOC. Nanfu Wang holds three master’s degrees from Shanghai University, Ohio University, and New York University in English Literature, Media Studies, and Documentary respectively.
Peter Lucas teaches at NYU and the New School. His courses focus on human rights with an emphasis on participatory media, documentary practice, the poetics of witnessing, human rights education, and youth media. He is also a filmmaker and a photographer and in 2012, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for his documentary film projects.
Andy Cohen has produced and co-written award-winning films that have premiered at Sundance Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, including Dealers Among Dealers, Killing Kasztner: the Jew who Dealt With Nazis, Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry, and The World Before Her, with broadcast on PBS’ P.O.V. And BBC Storyville. As a film director, Mr. Cohen directed and wrote a series of short films on China’s leading contemporary artists, and is in post-production on three feature length documentary films: Talking Tacheles, the infamous art house in Berlin, Criminals of the Nation, the AIDS villages in Xincai, China and Beijing Spring, the story of the first public art movement and protest march in Post-Mao China. He is also a contributing editor for Art Asia Pacific Magazine, and writes critically on Contemporary Asian Art for many other publications.
Alison Klayman’s feature documentary AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY won a Special Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The film went on to be released theatrically around the globe and shortlisted for an Academy Award, nominated for two Emmys and two Cinema Eye Honors, and earned Alison a Director’s Guild of America nomination. She is a regular contributor to the New York Times’ Op-Docs series, and was named one of the “20 Directors to Watch” on A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis’ list of international filmmakers under 40. She is Executive Producer of TOMORROW WE DISAPPEAR, and her new short THE 100 YEARS SHOW about the Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera is debuting in 2015.
Michael Shade is an independent documentary filmmaker. He currently works as a multimedia specialist at New York University. He also worked as a freelance video editor for MSNBC and HBO. His work has appeared on Al Jazeera Empire, MSNBC, HBO and The New York Daily News.
Mark Monroe is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose theatrical writing credits include: “Under The Gun” (Sundance 2016); “Racing Extinction” (Sundance 2015); “Fed Up” (Sundance 2014); “The Summit”, (Winner, Best Editing Sundance 2013); “Who is Dayani Cristal?”, (Winner, Best Cinematography, Sundance 2013); “Sound City” (Sundance 2013); “The Cove” (Winner, Best Documentary 2010 Academy Awards & Best Documentary Script, W.G.A. 2010); “The Tillman Story”; “Chasing Ice” (Winner, Best Cinematography Sundance 2012); “Stolen Seas”; “Last Play at Shea”; “Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos”, (W.G.A.nomination “Best Documentary Script”, 2007); “Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who”, and writer/director, “Morning Light”, Disney Pictures. Monroe was the writer of Dave Grohl’s “Sonic Highways” (HBO) and he’s currently working on an untitled Beatles documentary with Imagine Entertainment, White Horse Pictures, Apple Corporation and director Ron Howard.
Garry Waller is an award winning motion designer working in New York City whose art direction and graphics work on documentaries has helped secure numerous accolades. His work for the documentary “Watchers of The Sky” received the Special Jury Award for Animation at the 2014 Sundance premiere. The documentary “Trashed” which Garry Art Directed, received a Palme d’Ore nomination at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012.
Nathan Halpern is a Brooklyn-based composer, recently named as one of Indiewire’s “Composers to Watch” for 2015. His film scores include RICH HILL, winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary, MARINA ABRAMOVIC: THE ARTIST IS PRESENT (HBO Films), winner of the Emmy Award for Best Arts and Cultural Programming, the George Foster Peabody Award, the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, and numerous additional festival awards. Other recent film credits include the Kiernan Shipka-starring narrative feature ONE AND TWO (IFC Films), THE WITNESS, which premiered at the 2015 New York Film Festival, THE POISONER’S HANDBOOK (PBS/American Experience) and KEHINDE WILEY: AN ECONOMY OF GRACE (PBS), winner of the 2014 South by Southwest Grand Jury Prize.
Chris Ruggiero has composed music for documentaries including Ivy Meeropol’s INDIAN POINT and Jeff Dupre’s KEHINDE WILEY: AN ECONOMY OF GRACE. His music currently appears in dozens of television series including The Voice, Pawn Stars, and American Pickers, and his commercial credits include music for brands such as Coke, HSN, Imodium, Dewars, and Liberty Mutual. Upcoming scores include the documentaries WIND RIVER and OUT RUN.
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