Total Trust – Hot Docs 2023

Total Trust Hot Docs 2023
Shows how scary the level of authoritarian surveillance and police control is in China, though sadly the film is a bit of a slog to get through.

Total Trust – Hot Docs 2023

Runtime: 01:37
Two families fight for justice from within the digital prison of the Chinese surveillance state.

China's status as an authoritative surveillance state is exposed in . Using the latest technologies, such as facial recognition technology and even COVID health checks, the communist government of China can enact authoritative control over its citizens. Several Chinese citizens document their horrifying experiences with the Chinese surveillance states. The central story comes from Zijuan Chen, whose human rights lawyer husband, Weiping Chang, was one of 300 such lawyers incarcerated in a massive crackdown.

Total Trust Synopsis

Total Trust is a documentary by Jialing Zhang (One Child Nation) about China's authoritative control over its citizens. This includes moments out of dystopian fiction, such as police ensuring the people of interest don't leave their homes, including manipulating the health code for COVID checkpoints. At the centre are Zijuan Chen and her son Tutu, who are pleading for the release of imprisoned human rights lawyer Weiping Chang.

My Thoughts on Total Trust

As a film about the level of authoritative police control and surveillance in China, Total Trust is sometimes a scary film on a Kafkaesque and Orwellian level, especially as the film uses special cameras to show the number of police through the peephole of surveilled people's apartments. However, the decision to make Total Trust a primarily observational documentary does make the film a slog to get through at times. However, that still doesn't take away from how much of a surveillance state expose Total Trust ultimately ends up being.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.