The censorship of an award-winning Hong Kong film has drawn conflicting responses from Chinese netizens.
“Ten Years” has been boycotted and censored by many mainstream Chinese media, and coverage of the Hong Kong Film Awards, where the film won Best Picture, was also blocked.
The New York Times reported some Chinese netizens who were unable to watch the awards ceremony broadcast were frustrated, with one netizen noting, “The more you want to censor something, the more we want to get it.”
However, others appear to support the government positions. One netizen says, “It’s a country’s bottom line to oppose secession. What’s wrong with the broadcasting regulator’s ban on a film supporting independence for Hong Kong?”
The low-budget film depicts a dystopian Hong Kong in 2025. It is comprised of five short films showing how, under China’s influence, Mandarin has become the dominant language and certain texts have been banned. It also reflects Hong Kong as a society largely assimilated to Chinese rule.
When news of the movie’s nomination was brought to light, many Chinese media outlets condemned the move and declared their intent to boycott the awards ceremony. The Global Times denounced the film as a “thought virus” and labelled it “absurd,” “pessimistic” and “fear-mongering.” The government ordered companies Tencent and CCTV to cancel broadcasting the ceremony as well.
After the awards were presented, Chinese news portals Sina, Tencent, and a report by the central news agency, Xinhua, did not mention the movie nor the category of Best Film. Still, many netizens downloaded an American romantic-comedy, “10 Years.” That film, released in 2011, became the second most popular download on the well-known Chinese media download website YYeTs.
Fame brings awareness
“Ten Years” has unseated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” as the highest-grossing movie in Hong Kong. On Monday, tickets for the final remaining sessions sold out minutes after they were released.
Following the film’s local popularity, its directors are now looking forward to its premiere in Singapore’s Chinese Film Festival later this month. Two of the five directors involved in the movie and a producer are slated to appear.
A crowdfunding campaign has successfully raised more than its target £1,776 (NT$81,557) to host a screening of the film in London. The campaign reportedly wanted to “host a charity screening to gather donations for the Cantonese communities and promote the preservation of Cantonese culture.”
Edited by Edward White