Documentary Review: When the Dawn Comes (2021) by Zhang Hongjie

There are heroes just about everyone knows a lot about, and there are heroes that are merely not that popular. From time to time, the distinction is rooted in the forms of acts these heroes carry out, grand gestures can bring fame and glory, but the genuine heroes have a tendency to merely do their operate according to their ideals without the need of providing up, risking failures all along their path and potentially ending up just about anonymous. 1 of these discreet heroes is the activist Chi Chia Wei, the major topic of Zhang Hongjie’s 1-hour documentary “When the Dawn Comes”.

&#8220When the Dawn Comes&#8221 is screening at Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh

When we initially meet Mr Chi in a barber shop, getting his hair reduce and complaining about obtaining old (and his hair obtaining gray), it is really hard to assume that the man is 1 of the heroes of Taiwan, or at least some unique communities there. Back in the 80s, he was the AIDS patients’ rights activist, contributing for the removal of the stigma that the population had to carry. Just after that, he was 1 of the loudest gay activists, defending the lead to of legalizing identical-sex marriages. His fight was lengthy, but effective, resulting in the act of May possibly 17th, 2019 that produced Taiwan the initially Asian nation to recognize identical-sex marriages equal to the regular ones.

Zhang’s documentary walks along two distinct timelines that move at distinct paces. The outer 1, covering an in depth period of time, options Chi re-telling the anecdotes he collected for the duration of his years of fight for a far more just program, newspaper articles that confirm his theses and stories and testimonies of his pals, colleagues and comrades. In the central 1, we stick to Chi on his battles in the year 2017 that was vital for the gay marriages activism in Taiwan. For the duration of that year, Chi visited a quantity of (perhaps even all) Pride events in distinct cities in the nation, generally discovering a strategically higher spot to wave the rainbow-coloured flag from there, but also took portion in debates and preparations for the referendums.

Having said that, the truth that Mr Chi is a colourful and accessible character that has some critical and exciting points to say does not automatically make the documentary about him a very good 1. “When the Dawn Comes” tends to make some sense in the Taiwanese context and could possibly serve as a waypoint of how the points can be carried out in specific forms of social activism, but outdoors these circles, it could hardly locate any audience.

The cause for that is Zhang’s quite substantially textbook strategy in which the structure is most likely the most exciting issue albeit it was attempted and tested occasions and occasions prior to. On leading of that, we have some raw-searching footage from Chi’s current actions, “talking head” interviews and a bit of archival photo-material and newspaper scans, with occasional textual cards attempting to clarify the complicated context in a simplified manner. The production values are modest and, 1 could say, barely serviceable, which is the case with Zhang’s personal cinematography and Liu Wenyao’s editing that teases the viewers with the concept that the longer the blackout amongst the scenes is, the far more critical the subsequent 1 would be, as properly as Thomas Fouguenne’s stereotypically “gentle” piano score. From time to time the plainness of style puts the subject beneath the spotlight, but this time it is hardly the case.



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