Low budget anti-China feature wins at the Hong Kong Film Awards

Hong Kong Film Awards Statue (source: www.hongkongfp.com)
Hong Kong Film Awards Statue (source: http://www.hongkongfp.com)

On Sunday, the anti-China film “10 Years” won best film at the Hong Kong Film Awards. The controversial low-budget film portrays a dark visualization of Hong Kong’s future under Chinese rule.

From the stage, Producer Andrew Choi said, “Thank you for having the courage to give this award to us.”

The film illustrates the changes to Hong Kong’s society in ten years. It is set in 2025 and made up of 5 shorts, each depicting a dystopian future. One segment shows a political activist who sets himself on fire, and in another segment, standard Mandarin replaced the local Cantonese language. It also includes scenes where children are wearing uniforms as they police adults.

One of the film’s directors Chow Kwun-wai said, “Ten Years exposed the fear of Hong Kong people (towards China).”

There’s a ‘localism’ movement in Hong Kong and the win for the film may further stir the said movement. The film was described as a “thought virus” in the January editorial in China’s state-controlled Global Times. As a result, many cinemas in Hong Kong have also stopped screening it.

Makers of 10 Years never sought distribution in mainland China, but since the film is banned, it was instead shown at 30 selected public venues around the territory over the weekend. It is also expected to appear at festivals or in limited release in Italy, Singapore, Taiwan, and the US.

The story was blacked out when censors in the mainland China caught it appear on BBC World News. Chinese media outlets that reported on the results didn’t mention the win; but this doesn’t change the fact that independent films are growing more competitive in the industry.