Matthew Torne

Torne Films Ltd
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“Hong Kong is a paradox. Nowhere else in the world do people have the same level of personal freedoms without the corresponding freedom to choose their own government.

Moving to Hong Kong in 2003, its gleaming skyscrapers and neon lights at first seduced me, but I soon realised that this was a glitzy façade for a city suffering an identity crisis. This was highlighted on July 1st 2003, when half a million people took to the streets, exposing the discontent felt by Hong Kongers towards their own politicians and China’s leaders in Beijing.

Ten years on and Beijing’s financial overtures and patriotic coercion have somewhat subdued the general public, repairing the veneer of a prosperous harmonious city. But as the events of LESSONS IN DISSENT show, they have not resolved the underlying identity crisis fuelling the discontent: seven million people grappling with what it means to be ‘Hong Kong Chinese’ in post-1997 Hong Kong.

The story of two teenage boys, Joshua and Ma Jai, stood out to me as a vehicle for exploring the Hong Kong identity fifteen years after the Handover. They were so young, and were potentially sacrificing promising futures for a cause many believed already to be lost. I wanted to understand what would make two boys undertake such as Herculean task when they both stood to loose so much personally. I hope the telling of Joshua and Ma Jai’s story will help Hong Kongers find an answer to, “What does it mean to be ‘Hong Kong Chinese’ in post-1997 Hong Kong?”.”

Matthew Torne was educated at the University of Kent and Oxford University, UK, and studied film production at the Hong Kong Film Academy. LESSONS IN DISSENT is his documentary directorial debut. He previously directed and produced corporate films and worked as an Associate Producer marketing and distributing the award winning documentary film “Enemies of the People”.
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