The danger is palpable as intrepid young filmmaker Nanfu Wang follows maverick activist Ye Haiyan (a.k.a. Hooligan Sparrow) and her like-minded band 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. Wang becomes a target along with Sparrow, facing destroyed cameras and intimidation. Yet she bravely and tenaciously keeps shooting, guerrilla-style, with secret recording devices and hidden-camera glasses. In the process, she exposes a startling number of undercover security agents on the streets. Eventually, by smuggling footage out of the country, Wang is able tell the story of this group’s extraordinary journey and seemingly impossible battle.
HOOLIGAN SPARROW is Wang’s feature debut. She has surrounded herself with excellent company, including cowriter Mark Monroe (THE COVE) and executive producers Andy Cohen and Alison Klayman, the executive producer/director team who brought AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY to IFFBoston in 2012.