Lost Course


Jill Li

180 minutes | 2019 | Documentary | Mandarin, Cantonese and Shantou dialect Chinese, English | Chinese and English Subtitles
Toronto Premiere

The 57th Golden Horse Awards – Best Documentary

7 PM, WED, AUG 17
Innis Town Hall

Embedding herself in a small fishing village in southern China for several years starting in 2011, first-time documentarian Jill Li witnessed an unprecedented experiment in local democracy. Corrupt officials had illegally sold villagers’ land, but the villagers decided to fight back.

The documentary is divided into two halves: the first, “Protests”, depicts the grassroots activities of the residents as they work to reverse the land sales and gain a substantial measure of control over their local territory. We see how the villagers themselves learn to organize free and fair elections, form alliances, and win support. Part two, “After Protests”, confronts the collapse of idealism as the newly elected village government finds itself mired in the same kind of corrupt dealings they had originally condemned.

Li reveals the complexities of their triumphs and setbacks from the inside. Her astonishingly intimate, sympathetic and fair-minded access to the events’ major players reveals Chinese local politics with three-dimensional passion and energy.


Photo of Jill Li by Amber Lin

Jill Li is an independent documentary director, illustrator and ex-journalist. Her work focuses on individual circumstances and choices in the midst of societal changes. Lost Course is her directorial feature-length documentary debut, awarded at the 57th Golden Horse for Best Documentary, selected for the 2020 IDFA Frontlight Tomorrow’s Classic section, 2021 TIDF Asian Horizon competition, 2019 Vancouver International Film Festival and 2019 Hong Kong Asian Film Festival.


  • Director: Jill Li
  • Executive Producer: Luke To
  • Producer: Chai Sheng, Peter Yam
  • Cinematographer: Jill Li
  • Editor: Luke To, Jill Li, Lau Sze Wai
  • Sound: To-fu Chan
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