After scoring high marks for his first feature length documentary, "#chicagoGirl: The Social Network Takes on a Dictator" in 2013 about a young Syrian woman's efforts to run the Syrian revolution via Facebook, director Joe Piscatella helms this very entertaining doc about a john Hong Kong teen.


The 14-year old bot, Joshua Wong didn't take kindly to Beijing's decision to change the Hong Kong educational system to the national system rather than leave it autonomous. In response, he started up a student activist group called Scholarism with a few of his like minded friends. There objective was the stop Beijing's decision and hold them to their 1997 agreement not to interfere with Hong Kong operations.

That agreement slowly deteriorated over the years until the decision was made to change Hong Kong's educational format from a progressive, independent curriculum to one that promoted nationalism. They then proceeded to appoint a new city director to see the change through.


When there was no reaction from the adults, that's when Joshua jumped in with scholarism. It began with the creation and distribution of leaflets and a few public speeches and led to a movement of over one hundred thousand protesters. It turned out that Joshua was quite charismatic speaker! As one follower commented, he didn't act like a teenager, he seemed like he had been speaking for 20 years!


His actions made Beijing sit up and take notice of the boy, even using the 1989 Tiananmen Square tank stand-off as a reference point. It was decided to use more subtle harassment techniques rather than tanks and bullets. That proved ineffective as the savvy teen was not intimidated.


As Joshua grew older, his activism took on other efforts with mixed results. The documentary makes sure to discuss his failures as well as successes. It also makes sure to highlight his parents shock and surprise at their sons achievements having lived through the earlier Tiananmen Square protests that ended in massacre.


Piscatella proves quite adept at presenting the documentary in storyline fashion with definitive first, second and closing act layout. It makes the film more entertaining while also informational.


"Joshua: Teenager vs Superpower" is a very well done documentary that brings to light some of the little known facts of Scholarism movement and Beijing's handling of Hong Kong. It shows Beijing is still hard line, but with a slightly gentler touch on teenagers!   -- GEOFF BURTON