The documentary Awakened Citizen (暴民) was premiered by the Taiwan Nation Alliance on Thursday and — despite the refusal of many large theaters to air the film — director Chou Shih-lun (周世倫) said he hoped it would allow Taiwanese to see the another side of social activists.
The state habitually labels protesters and social activists as “mobs” and “rioters” after an event occurs, Chou said, but people labeled by the state as a “mob” have a very different image when captured in the documentaries of Japanese director Shinsuke Ogawa.
Ogawa has made a series of documentaries capturing the resistance of the Japanese against their government, as well as the idyllic beauty of the nation’s countryside. He is best known for capturing the protests over the building of Narita Airport.
Photo: Chen Yu-fu, Taipei Times
“When I recorded the proceedings, I saw people being abused. That is why I named the documentary Bao Min — it is a counterargument to the government’s claims,” Chou said.
Bao Min (暴民) is how the government labels protesters to cast them as mobs and rioters.
The documentary focuses on 10 different social activists, including a former member of the pan-blue White Justice Alliance, who transformed from a deep-blue supporter to an anti-blue protester, Chou said, adding that he hoped the documentary would illustrate to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) where he needed to improve.
Chou said he also hoped to sway the opinions of Taiwanese born in the 1950s and the 1960s, and to help them “wake up.”
Those born in the 1950s and 1960s have grown up under the heavy influence of the party-state ideology, which has to a large degree conditioned their mindsets and is the primary cause for many family rifts following the Sunflower movement in 2014, Chou said.
The movement was primarily to protest the methods by which the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was seeking to push through the cross-strait service trade agreement, leading to a student-led occupation of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
There are still many students who have been thrown out by their parents due to their differing stances on the issue, Chou said, adding that he hoped to show these parents that their children were actually at the forefront of a 21st-century epoch.
Political commentator Paul Lin (林保華) said he remembered how the media gave Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) the nickname the “Violent Little Ing” (暴力小英) in 2009 following protests against then-Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林).
The DPP has distanced itself from social activism since then, but those protests were not actually violent, Lin said.
Chinese human rights lawyer Teng Biao (滕彪), who attended the premiere, said the Chinese government had also labeled the student protesters in the Tiananmen Square Massacre a “mob.”
The Chinese regime is even less bound by the law than the Taiwanese government and Taiwanese social activists are much better off than their Chinese counterparts, Teng said, adding that even a small family meeting in China may lead to the family being detained.
It is very common in China, Teng said.
Restoration of Taiwan Social Justice convener Wu Jui-yen (吳濬彥) said he was very happy to be selected as a member of the documentary’s cast.
Coming from a pan-blue family, Wu said he stood up against the KMT government due to the downturn in the economy, the government’s poor performance and what he saw has the “keeping down” of the younger generation, due to low salaries and soaring house prices.
Wu said he eventually convinced his parents to see things his way and that his family would be voting for Tsai in next Saturday’s presidential election, adding that he hopes that Taiwan will eventually change for the better.
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