Hong Kong for years now has been embroiled in a very interesting period of the history of this city as it grapples with a new more explosive passion for what constitutes “Hong Kong” and being a “Hong Konger” within the confines of being a city that belongs to China. The past few years have seen a myriad of social unrest and concerns of the “mainlandization” of this city with the growing use of Mandarin, influx of Mainland tourists, and overall fears that the “local” culture of Cantonese will slowly whither away leaving Hong Kong being just another Mandarin speaking city in China. People have genuine concern when unexplainable things continue to happen like the mysterious disappearance of booksellers in Hong Kong who somehow turned up back in China and are paraded around on TV denouncing their own acts and/or providing some strange alibi to where they’ve been and how they got there.
Hong Kong has completely been polarized into camps that support the HK government/CCP, and a camp that actually supports the notion of “Hong Kong independence”. Regardless of where one sits on this social divide, it has been interesting times…
Recently, Hong Kong released one of the most poignant movies depicting this chaos and where Hong Kong currently is. The movie is called Ten Years that was created on a shoestring budget, but touched the hearts of Hong Kongers so much that the movie was a box office hit outgrossing Star Wars. You would think that with such a successful local movie, the makers of this film would be showered with accolades. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. Incredibly wrong. Because of the political nature of this movie, the creators of this movie have said they weren’t actually trying to create a political movie – it was just a fictional narrative, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) have been working behind the scenes feverishly trying to pull this movie out of movie theaters and offline and out of the psyche.
Here is a GREAT article written by a person name James Chan that summarizes the current predicament:
“Here’s something that isn’t public knowledge, well not until this comment anyway. The CCP wanted this movie which is quite innocuous and hardly warrants the terms “counter-revolutionary”, “destabilizing society”, “malicious lies” etc., to be completely expunged from existence.
Now “Ten Years” was originally only shown for just a few times as a small indie film and I couldn’t get a ticket because it was treated as a small time “art” film and only got a dozen or so slots in a couple of tiny cinemas. Then a number of scandals including the infamous citizen kidnappings erupted in Hong Kong a week or two after the handful of people, not me, who managed to get to see it.
And of course some Beijing organ made some derogatory remarks about the film and then everyone wanted to see it. In fact the more the HK establishment & the CCP wanted to ban it, the more fervent the desires of the locals to see what it is all about. Their attempts at suppression were actually free advertising.
The movie came back to a handful of cinemas but despite the venues allocating theaters to it like a Hollywood blockbusters, we still couldn’t get a ticket. Even people who never went to cinemas tried to get to see what it is all about. Its box office takings exceeded that of Star Wars in HK at the same time.
March/April is the annual big events time for the movie industry in HK. Kind of like a giant arms fair for weapons buyers & suppliers but these few weeks are all about movies and the rest of the year’s funding & business. Having achieved the best box office take, the events organisers couldn’t exactly not mention it. All they did was nominated it in the categories that it was a clear winner.
CCP said no.
The organisers then spent weeks in February & March to come up with some compromise that would appease the CCP. The event programs that usually come out weeks in advance were still absent with literally days to go before the big opening do. The organisers were prepared to play the whole thing down to a simple mention in some printed matter and offers the movie no participation in any part of the Film Festival.
That’s tantamount to a British sprinter running the 100m in 4 seconds in front of millions of people and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year does not include him in its shortlist.
CCP said no.
They wanted the movie to be erased from human memory and all involved punished. They wanted the HK film industry to do it. Kind of like a feudal lord demanding one of his vassals to deal with some unruly peasant in his domain.
Organisers said, we will look like cunts if we did this and anyway, can’t be done, cat’s out of the bag already. (At this point, some amongst the organisers were pretty fed up with the intransigence of the CCP.)
CCP played its trump: we are instructing all Chine
se companies to withdraw funding for the events and cancel all future projects. Unless Ten Years is erased from history.
HK organisers screamed: You can’t to that! We have contracts!
(FYI every major Chinese company takes instructions from the Party. Don’t fool yourselves when you buy routers from Huawei that you are not buying from the criminal syndicate aka the CCP and that they did not build a hack into your system.)
The HK film industry, especially the pro CCP faction, had worked to find a solution. They had bent over backward. The film industry is notoriously spineless and would have done almost anything not to rock the boat. But the CCP wanted its pratically impossible command obeyed and is quite prepared to destroy the whole industry in the process.
Present state of play: Actors and guests are afraid to be caught in the crossfire so many have pulled out. Advertisers are pulling out for the same reasons. I am not sure how the organisers are going to pay their bills but an interesting thing just happened: there will be free showing all over HK of the movie. Now that’s a stroke of genius and protest by someone, though I don’t know who, but hats off to them! This will piss off the CCP no end.”
What can you do now? Go watch the movie as much as possible. Over the weekend in Hong Kong the movie was screened FREE throughout the city under bridges, on rooftops, on stairs, everywhere…THOUSANDS came out to watch and support this act.
We don’t know what the future holds for this city…but Hong Kongers are suspicious people – we know it’s OUR freedoms that are on the line. So as James mentioned above, the harder the noose tied around our necks by the powers that be, the more explosive our reaction.