Monday, 4 April 2016

Ten Years a Flicker of Hope

Andrew Choi, executive producer of Ten Years with the cast and crew
Last night it was a thrill to see the local movie Ten Years won Best Film in the Hong Kong Film Awards.

Not only was it made by five first-time directors, but also because it has become a political issue, as the five vignettes imagine what the city will be like in 10 years, or 2025.

There are scenes of children in uniform policing adults, harking back to the Cultural Revolution, a taxi driver who loses out on business because he cannot speak Putonghua, and even a self immolation in front of the British Consulate.

State media, in particular, Global Times denounced the film in an editorial describing it as a "thought virus", and as soon as Ten Years was nominated in the annual film event in January, Tencent and CCTV announced they would not be broadcasting the awards show on the mainland.

So it was in this backdrop that many wondered if Ten Years would have a chance at all, only being nominated in one category.
A scene from Ten Years that looks at Hong Kong in 2025

But those who voted gave Ten Years their approval.

The film's executive producer Andrew Choi said in his acceptance speech: "Thanks to the Film Awards for daring to give us this award. Ten Years has already gone beyond just being a film. There are so many possibilities in Hong Kong films.

"This award shows that Hong Kong actually has hope. This award tells us that we need to keep working hard. Thanks to all the Hong Kong viewers. This award belongs to you all."

However not everyone in the local film industry was happy with the result. Peter Lam Kin-ngok, chair of production company Media Asia complained Ten Years was not a top film.

"It was unfair to filmmakers. Politics has kidnapped the profession and politicized film awards," said Lam, who is also a local delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Peter Lam believes the film politicized the film awards
Media Asia's She Remembers, He Forgets was in the running for best picture, but won for best original film song.

Motion Picture Industry Association chair Crucindo Hung Cho-sing also said Ten Years' win was a "big joke".

"It was not nominated for the best actor, actress or cinematography, so it doesn't even match the standards of a best picture," Hung said. "I don't know if anyone was using the awards as a political tool."

Lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok, who is also Film Development Council chairman, thought the filmmakers of Ten Years might be "too worried" about Hong Kong's future.

Then why did the film that cost HK$500,000 to make went on to make HK$5 million in the box office?

It resonates with people, talking about their fears of what Hong Kong could possibly be, with some of the scenes already a reality. It may not have a star cast or have high production values, but the ideas are there.

A Hong Kong taxi driver can't speak Putonghua in Ten Years
So now Ten Years is dragged further into a political spat because the establishment isn't happy.

The city is so divided -- you're either on one side or the other -- reminiscent of the Occupy protests, the blues or the yellows.

When will these divisions end so that we can focus on making Hong Kong better?

But it seems like the establishment are only concerned about enriching themselves at the expense of the rest, and the rest are trying to scrape whatever opportunities are left to survive.

As Choi says, there is hope if we keep working harder. And that flame has flickered a bit brighter now.

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