Hooligan Sparrow Screen 89 of 7 reviews

Hooligan Sparrow

2016

Hooligan Sparrow Poster
  • One of the strengths of “Hooligan Sparrow” is that it makes those stakes real, visceral and urgent, partly by laying bare just how difficult it can be to make a documentary like this... “Hooligan Sparrow,” which Ms. Wang also shot and skillfully edited, has the pulse of a mainstream thriller but without the pacifying polish and tidiness.

  • Wang's film allows the public activist to be privately human, showing Ye at home with her lively daughter, sharing moments of friendship with other women activists or clearing brush and describing the hard rural lives of her family. By the final moments, Wang is alone, surrounded by men threatening to smash her handheld camera. Wang shot this film largely solo. If they smash her lens, there's nothing for us to see. Silence is death, and she insists on living.

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    Film Comment: Amy Taubin
    March 03, 2016 | Sundance | March/April 2016 Issue (p. 64)

    Packing a double whammy, Hooligan Sparrow has the jaunty appeal of a feminist adventure film, while leaving no doubt about the gravity of the huamn rights struggle in China, particularly for women.

  • The story of Ye Haiyan, a.k.a. Hooligan Sparrow, captures her unconventional and poignant activism through a tense story that explodes after she (and other women from her collective) protest against leniency for a pedophile principal... From enthusiastically documenting the peaceful roadside protests to escaping police surveillance, the movie’s fighting spirit is a standout.

  • Wang largely uses the film's jerky, low-grade imagery to her advantage, amplifying the tension of Kafkaesque encounters with police, but her aesthetic has its limitations. Her assiduous approach to chronology results in a lack of narrative cohesion... But Hooligan Sparrow's final revelation is an instance of pure journalism.

  • Filmed in an extremely hostile environment, sometimes navigating repeated threats to equipment and life, Hooligan Sparrow is funny, painful and provoking at the same time.

  • "We often forget we're women when we're working," says the Chinese activist Ye Haiyan in Hooligan Sparrow, the festival's tense, polished opening-night selection.