“10 Years,” a low-budget feature which portrays a dark imagining of Hong Kong’s future under Chinese rule, was named as best film at the Hong Kong Film Awards on Sunday night.
The film, which is made up of five shorts each depicting changes to Hong Kong society ten years into the future, has already attracted controversy. In one segment the local Cantonese language has been outlawed, to be replaced by standard Mandarin. In another segment a political activist sets himself on fire.
The film’s win is certain to anger authorities in Beijing. “Thank you for having the courage to give this award to us,” said Andrew Choi, one of the film’s co-producers from the stage.
The win for “10 Years” may also further stir the ‘localism’ movement in Hong Kong. This upswelling of anti-authoritarianism sparked a riot in the streets of Hong Kong on the first day of Chinese New Year. In the last week it has seen a group of students unveil plans for a political party that would seek independence from China for the territory, which was handed back to China in 1997 by the U.K., the former colonial power. Hong Kong authorities have refused to register the independence party.
The film was released under the radar in Hong Kong in late 2015, but became a surprise, modest box office hit. It earned some HK$6 million (US$780,000) in Hong Kong, before exhibitors in the territory got cold feet and removed it from their screens.
With access to cinemas denied, the film was instead shown at some 40 public venues around the territory over the weekend.
It is unclear whether there were instructions from China for cinema to stop exhibiting the film. However, Chinese authorities are clearly furious. Mainland Chinese tabloid newspaper The Global Times castigated the film as a “disease of the mind.”
Shortly after “10 Years” was announced as an HKFA nominee mainland Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said that it would drop its normal live broadcast of the awards show. Mainland Internet giant Tencent quickly followed and said that it would also not stream the ceremony on the web in China.
Other winners on Sunday night included thriller “Port of Call,” which collected seven awards. Tsui Hark was named as best director for “The Taking of Tiger Mountain.”