Yet more drama has arisen between the mainland and Hong Kong with China announcing a media boycott of the Hong Kong Film Awards being held on April 3rd, but won’t be shown on either CCTV or Tencent. The sudden decision apparently comes as a response to the dystopian HK film Ten Years getting nominated for “Best Film.”
Set 10 years in the future, the film depicts a dystopian Hong Kong under Communist Party rule, where shops are attacked by soldiers for selling banned materials and activists self-immolate as a statement for independence. SCMP has called the film “a reminder of the power of independent, intelligent filmmaking as a vehicle for social and political critique.”
Despite limited showings, Ten Years has grossed HK$6 million — a decent profit considering its modest HK$600,000 budget. The film has struck a chord with Hong Kong audiences, who “left packed screenings in tears.”
But needless to say, Beijing was not entertained, the Global Times lambasted the film as a “virus of the mind” and even blamed it for the Mong Kok riots earlier this month.
On Friday, CCTV and Tencent notified the Hong Kong Film Awards Association of their cancellations, the latter even in spite of already paying HK$4 million for webcast rights. Chairman Derek Yee Tung-Sing expects a loss of at least HK$4 million, reports Mingpao.
“It is very strange. What are they afraid of?” remarked Ng Ka-leung, one of the film’s five directors, on China’s about-face. “It is a small independent film and now with all this attention, it makes people even more curious.”
But apparently the mainland isn’t stopping at just Hong Kong — according to China Digital Times, word is that Taiwan’s Golden Horse Film Awards in November will also be snubbed from broadcasting in China, in the Tsai Ing-wen’s rise to presidency. Here’s the announcement from the CCP’s publicity department and SAPPRFT:
Due to social changes in Hong Kong and Taiwan this year, and to prevent the negative influence of speech, film, and television which do not conform to the national condition, all major websites and mobile apps must suspend live and relay broadcasts of the Hong Kong Film Awards in April and of Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards at the end of the year. Major media may continue to report on the Hong Kong and Taiwan awards. (February 21, 2016)
For the last 3 years the event was live-casted in China through Sina, but a spokesman from the awards show admits plans for this year are indeed up in the air, although they are “in the process of negotiation with other mainland portals.”
Even more ominously, screenings of Ten Years in Hong Kong have now mysteriously ceased — but fortunately for its directors the film’s international rights have now been bought by Golden Scene, so it should escape being stifled altogether.
Check out the trailer here:
[Images via Wikicommons/screencaps // Video via YouTube]