Synopsis: A young Chinese dissident navigates memories of persecution and paranoia at the hands of Beijing’s political police, while he awaits the result of his application for asylum in New York City. Two cities coalesce into a single stage where personal and political histories reveal the traumas of a young and inexperienced dissident stepping into and against the powers of authoritarian politics.
In summer 2019, thirty years after the brutal crackdown on the student democracy movement in Tiananmen Square, massive protests swept Hong Kong — the largest the island had ever seen. This ongoing unrest reflects Hong Kongers’ fear and anger over encroaching authoritarian influence from mainland China. But these sorts of demonstrations are impossible in Beijing, where our film’s protagonist grew up. Since 1989, fear manifests there in silence, and any act of protest is punished, suppressed, and erased. For Wang Zhongxia, designing and printing a few t-shirts set off a decade of persecution. His radical transparency in the retelling of these events is in the service of those who cannot — friends, colleagues, and kindred spirits who remain censored, imprisoned, or otherwise silenced.