Freedom means different things to different people. “Freedom for the Wolf,” a new documentary from director Rupert Russell, takes a worldview on what liberty means for people in places where democracy is a new concept.
Drawing its name from philosopher Isaiah Berlin—“Freedom for the wolves has often meant death to the sheep.”—the film travels to Hong Kong, Tunisia, India and America to examine the reaction to the rise of a toxic mix of dictatorship and democracy called illiberal democracy. It’s an academic idea that comes to life once filtered through the experiences of Hong Kong’s Occupy Movement, #BlackLivesMatter in America, Tunisian rappers and Indian comedians.
Democracy, the film tells us, is experiencing an erosion of the freedoms that once were its cornerstones, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. We are shown how pro-Beijing forces in Hong Kong actively worked against the Occupy movement to squash the fundamentals of freedom. It’s a potent glimpse at how governments impose rules on freedom that erode the potency of the core idea.
“Freedom for the Wolf” takes large ideas and, by humanizing them, showing the people involved in the struggle for freedom, creates a vivid and thought provoking portrait of the struggle for the most basic of human rights.