Dogwoof has acquired world sales rights to “Faceless,” the directorial debut of Jennifer Ngo, ahead of its world premiere at the Hot Docs film festival, Variety has learned exclusively.
“Faceless” is a behind-the-headlines story of the 2019 Hong Kong demonstrations, seen through the eyes of four young protestors seeking to protect their way of life. Directed by Ngo and produced by Lorraine Ma, it’s a Dissonant Productions film in association with XTR and Flat-Out Films. The deal was negotiated with the filmmakers by Oli Harbottle, head of acquisitions for Dogwoof.
“I remember watching ‘Blackfish’ in 2013 as an aspiring filmmaker and making a mental note of Dogwoof,” said producer Ma. “For years they have supported filmmakers in releasing urgent stories that speak truth to power. It’s a dream come true to partner with them in bringing ‘Faceless’ to global audiences.”
“Faceless” follows a daughter who loves her police officer father; a believer who advocates nonviolent resistance; a secondary school student preparing for his exams; and a queer artist-activist. As protests against a controversial extradition bill engulf Hong Kong, their lives are suddenly upended.
With their faces covered, the four young protestors take to the streets, facing tactical problems with creativity and countering police brutality in unity, in the biggest demonstrations the city has ever seen. As daily protests morph into a greater movement calling for democracy, they are each forced to re-examine their motives, their values and personal relationships.
“Unsurprisingly, much of the coverage of the 2019-20 Hong Kong protests has been from outsider journalists, so it’s great to see a film made on the ground in collaboration with people actually involved in the movement,” said Harbottle. “Jennifer’s unique access and her bravery in putting together the project makes for an urgent film to highlight the continuing oppression in the region.”
Ngo previously reported for the South China Morning Post before moving into current affairs documentaries, mainly for the BBC in London. Since 2018 she has also been involved in the Migration Collective, which organizes the annual London Migration Film Festival.
Ma worked at Fox Networks Group, developing and financing original series and movies. She has also produced three independent movies, including Cannes player “Ten Years Thailand,” and directed the Al Jazeera documentary “Gateless,” produced by Oscar-winner Ruby Yang.
“Faceless” is edited by Samuel Rong, with additional editing by Andrea Lewis. Scott Clotworthy serves as director of photography, with cinematographer Stanley Leung. The assistant director is Crystal Wong. The film is associate produced by Christopher Niem, and scored by Harris Tartell. The consulting producer is Michael Shevloff and the online editor is Ira Flowers, with executive producers Nancy Tong and Tony Hsieh. Kathryn Everett and Bryn Mooser are executive producers for XTR, with Justin Lacob as contributing producer.