Behind the gas masks of Hong Kong’s democracy movement, the often very young activists are just as diverse as the youths of the rest of the world. But they share a demand for democracy and freedom. They have the will and the courage to fight – and they can see that things are going in the wrong direction in the small island city, which officially has autonomy under China but is now tightening its grip and demanding that ‘troublemakers’ be put away or silenced. Amid the violent protests, we meet a 21-year-old student, a teenage couple and a new father. Nuances and dilemmas add depth to the heated conflict, which is otherwise in danger of being reduced to a romantic freedom fight in ideological black-and-white. If anything, the collective work ‘When A City Rises’ shows us that the battle against oppression is not just fought on the front lines on the streets, but also at home in the living rooms, in the schools and on social media. And we are there on all fronts in a courageous film about an entire generation’s last chance to have a life in democracy and freedom – until Covid-19 shows up and changes the rules of the game once again.