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With: Edward Chan, Louise Wong, Qi Ke Jia, Edwin Chan, Ed Wu
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Ruby Yang
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 90
Date: 03/18/1999

Citizen Hong Kong (1999)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

San Francisco resident Ruby Yang's Citizen Hong Kong is a documentary that asks the same question that Wayne Wang's Chinese Box asked last year: what happens when an entire country changes ownership? (England's 150 year "lease" on the country expired in 1997 and the country reverted back to Chinese Communism.) Yang takes her digital video camera to Hong Kong and follows several young people around, recording how their lives have changed. One young girl, an immigrant from China, works hard to get into an exclusive school. Two brothers, born deaf, move with their family into a brand-new government subsidized building. One 33 year-old Hong Kong native works in a music shop, collects pop culture paraphernalia, and wonders where his future lies. Another girl who grew up in Australia now works for an English-language radio station as a reporter. Each of these people has a different take on the changeover. Interestingly, all of them in one way or another put some kind of positive spin on the situation. Yang's documentary is fascinating, but it occasionally gives in to outdated PBS documentary filmmaking formulas, including wretchedly overdone music that hammers you over the head with the emotions you're supposed to feel. Regardless, Citizen Hong Kong is very much worth seeing.

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