Chinese cartoonist Badiucao is set to appear in a documentary about his art in the context of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre. The hour-long film, set to be broadcast on ABC Australia on June 4, comes six months after the artist was forced to cancel his debut Hong Kong art exhibition amid threats from the Chinese authorities.
The film follows the exiled artist in the lead-up to the ill-fated art show, as he uses his satirical cartoons and performance art around the world to challenge Beijing’s censorship and one-party rule.
“He believes history is constantly being rewritten and tampered with, and even forgotten, when free speech and democracy are absent,” a statement from the filmmakers said. “His art is a record of his personal perspective on social issues which aims to confront the official record. He believes art and the internet has the power to deconstruct and challenge the arrogance and authority of dictatorships, building towards individual awakening and true independence.”
The movie reveals how Badiucao was inspired by Tank Man – the lone protester who stood in front of a line of tanks after the bloody 1989 military crackdown. The massacre left hundreds – perhaps thousands – dead following weeks of pro-democracy protests around Tiananmen Square.
Badiucao has not been heard from since he received threats over last year’s exhibition. His Twitter account was last active on the eve of the show, last November 2.
The filmmakers said he went to great lengths to protect his real identity: “Like Banksy, the artist remains incognito, but unlike Banksy, his life – and that of his family – are at stake, as the Chinese authorities – desperate to prevent his political art breaching their Great Firewall – close in on his identity.”
Award-winning Australian director Danny Ben-Moshe – who appears in the film – said that he reached out to Badiucao having seen his street art in a national newspaper.
Here’s the reel for my new documentary coming out on ABC next Tuesday 4 June 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Thx to all who helped by appearing in the film @RosieBlau @tomgrundy @HongKongFP @ugauthier @ZhouFengSuo @CDT & of course the inimitable @badiucao pic.twitter.com/L4MeGonCMB
— Danny Ben-Moshe (@dannyb_m) May 28, 2019
“The level of fear about Chinese surveillance escalated as the film progressed,” he said. “It made me realise that China’s nefarious activities overseas are like a form of terrorism, where the fear of the threat can be greater than the threat itself.”
The movie will debut on ABC Australia at 9:30pm on June 4.