Hooligan Sparrow, from Director Nanfu Wang, Wins Big on Chinese Child Rape/Sex Crimes Documentary

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Hooligan Sparrow, from first time Director Nanfu Wang, tells the story of four girls raped by their principal and a sex trade worker who fights to exchange her trade so that no other children would be raped.

Wang followed a group of activist seeking justice for school children who were raped by their principal; the activists and Wang were subsequently chased around the country by secret police and angry mobs incited by the Chinese government. 

The danger is palpable as intrepid young filmmaker Nanfu Wang follows maverick activist Ye Haiyan (a.k.a Hooligan Sparrow) and her band of colleagues 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 faced 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.

Filmmaker Wang becomes a target along with Sparrow, as she faces destroyed cameras and intimidation. Yet she bravely and tenaciously keeps shooting, guerrilla-style, with secret recording devices and hidden-camera glasses, and in the process, she exposes a startling number of undercover security agents on the streets.

Eventually, through smuggling footage out of the country, Wang is able tell the story of her journey with the extraordinary revolutionary Sparrow, her fellow activists, and their seemingly impossible battle for human rights.

Hooligan Sparrow is Nanfu Wang’s feature debut. It’s executive produced by Andy Cohen, Executive Producer for Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (Special Jury Prize, Sundance 2012) and Alison Klayman, Director/Producer of Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry; co-written by Mark Monroe, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and six-time Sundance veteran: The Cove (Winner, Best Documentary 2010 Academy Awards & Best Documentary Script, W.G.A. 2010); with original score by Nathan Halpern, Rich Hill (Grand Jury Prize, 2015), and graphics by Garry Waller, Watchers of the Sky (Special Jury Prize, Sundance 2014).  

The Director, Nanfu Wang provided this statement:

I first heard about Ye Haiyan (who is known more widely by her nickname, Hooligan Sparrow, in China) a few years ago when I read an article online about a Chinese woman who was offering to work as a sex worker – for free. I’ve lived in China most of my life, and I’ve always been interested in issues related to sex workers’ rights, so I was curious to learn more about this woman and what motivated her.

Sparrow had a long history of advocating for women’s rights in China, and her offer of free sex in the Ten Yuan Brothel stemmed from a desire to expose the terrible working conditions in the brothel and also the desperate lives of the migrant workers who visited them.

As I researched Sparrow, I learned that like me, she came from a poor farming village with limited access to education. I appreciated her respect for people whom Chinese society rejected, and I shared her desire to understand their lives more deeply. I reached out to her via e-mail in early 2013 to see if she’d be willing to let me film her as part of a larger video project about sex workers in China. She replied, “When you’re in China, we’ll talk.”

On May 14th, 2013, I returned to China from the U.S where I had lived for two years at the time. When I landed and got a hold of her, she was in the midst of preparing for a public protest with a number of other activists. Two government officials in southern China had taken six schoolgirls to a hotel for a night, and the local government seemed poised to hand down a perfunctory sentence. Sparrow and her fellow activists wanted justice to be served for the girls and their families, so they planned to stage a public demonstration denouncing the government and the officials, a move that could land all of them in prison.

The chain of events I witnessed in the months that followed the protest shocked me. I’ve never had illusions about fairness in China’s justice system or the accountability of its government. But I never expected to see ordinary people turn on their neighbors who were fighting for their rights. I never expected to be attacked by screaming mobs just for filming on the street. I never expected to be interrogated by national security agents, and that my family and friends would be harassed and threatened by secret police. 

But this is the China I saw.

Nanfu Wang is an independent filmmaker based in New York City. Her feature debut Hooligan Sparrow premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2016. Wang was born in a remote farming village in Jiangxi Province, China.

After losing her father at the age of 12, Wang was forced to forgo formal education and take whatever work she could to support her family. Unable to afford high school, she studied at a vocational school until she secured work as a teacher at a primary school at the age of 16, teaching herself English during her spare time.

After several years of working, Wang was admitted to a university’s Continuing Education Program, where she studied English literature. At the age of 22, she was awarded a full fellowship to attend a graduate program in English Language and Literature at Shanghai University.

Realizing that she wanted to help tell the stories of people who came from backgrounds like hers, Wang decided to pursue graduate film studies, first in the journalism school at Ohio University and later at New York University’s documentary program. Wang holds three master's degrees from New York University, Ohio University, and Shanghai University.

Since completing her studies, Wang has produced short films that have been distributed on many platforms and translated into several languages. Her work often features the stories of marginalized or mistreated people. Wang continues to seek out and tell the stories of people who have been ignored by their societies. Wang is a recipient of the Sundance Documentary Fund and Bertha Britdoc Journalism Fund, and a Sundance and IFP supported filmmaker.

Hooligan Sparrow will have a National Television Broadcast Debut on PBS Series POV on Monday, October 17, 2016.

Hooligan Sparrow, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and was the Opening Night Film at Human Rights Watch Film Festival New York, has won prizes and numerous international film festivals including Best Documentary at the Jerusalem Film Festival!

Nanfu Wang brings surprising courage as she tackles a cultural system and government knowing her future could be erased and she thrown into prison and put to death.

The documentary, solid and award winning, brings to mind great journalism exposes that ignite change and cause the slow moving and often non-existent wheels of justice to turn.

The riveting documentary Hooligan Sparrow, which follows the incredible story of a group of activists in China who risk their lives to protest against the sexual abuse of schoolgirls by their principal debuts on the PBS television series POV on Monday, October 17, 2016.  

 

Haute Tease

  • AFI FEST 2013 presented by Audi ANNOUNCES DATES AND CALL FOR ENTRIES

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    LOS ANGELES, CA– AFI FEST 2013 presented by Audi officially announced its dates and call for entries today. The American Film Institute's annual celebration of artistic excellence brings the audience and the entertainment community together to explore the year in global cinema through the new works of film masters, moving image icons and breakthrough talents, and is the only film festival of its stature that is free to the public.

     
  • Submission Deadlines For 2015 Oscars® Approaching

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today published its list of upcoming submission deadlines for 88th Academy Awards® consideration.  

  • The Power of Sports Metaphors in Politics: Trump vs. Clinton as The Main Event

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Gender norms influence not just what we think, but how. Consider the presence of sports metaphors in American politics. Metaphors are not merely figures of speech. According to the cognitive scientists and philosophers George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980), human thought processes are largely metaphorical.

     
  • THE FIRST LINE: NEW 200th Anniversary Trailer (Link)

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Giancarlo Giannini leads an international all-star cast in the dramatic courtroom thriller The First Line, exclusively acquired by Netflix and currently available for streaming highlighting the recent 200th anniversary of the acquisition of the Parthenon Marbles by the British Museum.  

  • Romney’s Romp - Road to the White House - Election 2012 - Week Five

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, roared back from his bitter South Carolina defeat, winning both Florida’s Primary and the Nevada Caucus proving he’s the GOP front man to beat.

Crime

  • Decorated Virginia State Police Trooper Murdered, Two Others Injured, in Random Shooting

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Trooper Chad P. Dermyer, who one year ago was receiving an accommodation from his superiors, was shot and killed at the Richmond Greyhound Station by an ex-con who opened fire, in the crowded terminal, after a brief verbal encounter.  

     
  • PA Newlywed Confesses to Craigslist Thrill Kill and 100 Others

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Miranda Barbour, the Pennsylvania newlywed charged with murder, has made a shocking revelation in a jailhouse interview confessing to committing up to 100 other murders across several states.

     
  • People Exclusive: Police Recover Body of Missing Alabama Teen Who Called Mother to Say Someone Was Trying to Kill Him

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    EXCLUSIVE REPRINT (NEW YORK) – Police have found the body of a 19-year-old Alabama boy who went missing Saturday after telling his mother by phone that someone was trying to kill him.

     
  • People Exclusive: Inside the Leadership of the Word of Life Church: Is Tiffanie Irwin Running a Killer Cult

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The residents of the sleepy hamlet of Chadwicks, New York, had long suspected there was something different about the Word of Life Christian Church – even before two teenage brothers were savagely beaten after over a dozen hours inside the church's sanctuary room, according to police.

     
  • Gas Main Explosion Levels Building in East Village; Scores Injured

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A suspected gas main explosion leveled a building on Manhattan’s lower east side injuring dozens some critical as firefighters attempted to contain the quickly spreading seven alarm inferno before it consumed the adjoining buildings.

Theatre, Music, Books

  • Jayne Avaunt, Canada's Newest Pop Sensation, Hits U.S. Airwaves

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Jayne Avaunt, Canada’s newest pop sensation, is now blazing the Americans musical charts with her hit single, Hear Me. Hear Jayne out with Hear Me,and see what bloggers are talking about.

     
  • Honeymoon In Vegas Review – Go For The Music, Stay For The Elvis Impersonators

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Writing reviews to send out is actually quite difficult for me.  The truth is, I’m a theatre snob, and I’m pretty hard to please.  Without creative geniuses such as Rodgers and Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein, or even Stephen Sondheim, it’s hard for me to give my endorsement.  Not this time.  You will love ‘Honeymoon In Vegas’.

     
  • Broadway's Best: Celebrating the Music of Ron Abel

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Birdland, the legendary Manhattan Jazz Club, played host for two nights only to celebrate, one of Broadway's best and Hollywood's hottest talents, composer and musical genius Ron Abel.

     
  • Living A Life That Matters: A Memoir of the Marquis de Lafayette Review – Surprisingly Interesting

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Penned by renowned Civil Rights attorney David M. Weitzman, Living A Life That Matters will not jump off the shelf for the causal bookstore window shopper. The title, the image all suggest an intellectual read reserved for professors, scholars, politicians and the like.  

  • HL A&E Presents The Best Summer 2016 Music Festivals, by the Numbers

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Every year, thousands of people flock to church. The devotees pray in flower crowns and straw hats, fringe-laden vests and neon body paint. They are the congregation of music lovers, gathering from many different corners of the world to worship at the summer’s many music festivals.