Streaming: Lost Course
March 5–May 9, 2021
Engrossing, revealing and bittersweet; sweeps the viewer into the center of a bold, fledgling grassroots democratic movement in the surprising setting of rural China. . . . Solid, uncensored journalism.Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
Jill Li’s formidable first documentary is a comprehensive account of the 2011 grassroots uprising and its aftermath in Wukan, a fishing village in Guangdong Province in southern China. Frustrated by the treachery of local officials who had for years been fraudulently selling the town’s communal land to developers, hundreds of Wukan villagers staged a protest. Undaunted by the violent reaction of police and organized by an energetic group of activists, including the anonymous “Patriot #1,” the demonstrators persisted, attracting international press attention and ultimately instigating the election of new local leadership. Positioning herself in the midst of the action, Li obtained extraordinarily candid interviews with the organizers and followed their stories years after they were elected to public office. Its title alluding to the maritime analogy that one activist, Hong, employs in an impassioned speech describing Wukan as a ship, Lost Course navigates the hopeful enthusiasm of the villagers who for the first time make their voices heard, and their subsequent disappointment as nascent democracy is stalled in the doldrums of corruption and compromise.