The political thriller film Ten Years continues to draw fans and attract audiences in Hong Kong, while China’s central government censors any online mention of the film on the mainland. This week the film’s producers officially released the film online, after a copy was leaked on the internet.
The film’s Executive Producer, Andrew Choi, said he hopes audiences take the film as a warning of Hong Kong’s potential future, and an inspiration to act.
“The film gives the opportunity, the audience, a chance to reflect that if we don’t want to see a future like ten years, in ten years’ time, what can we do today to preserve some of the things that we used to enjoy in Hong Kong,” he said.
Earlier this month the movie won the top prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Chinese television channels on the mainland, which usually broadcast the ceremony, did not air the awards show this year.
The award drew some critics, including Hong Kong tycoon Peter Lam, who said awards shows are becoming too politicized. He said the prize being given to Ten Years was “unfortunate for the Hong Kong film industry,” and that the decision was based primarily on the political content of the film.
Lam is chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, and owner of the Hong Kong-based Media Asia Film. He is also a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Ten Years consists of five short vignettes, each filmed by a different director, which imagine what life in Hong Kong may be like under Beijing’s central government in 2025. The movie depicts a protester self-immolating in front of Chinese government offices, and Mandarin replacing widespread use of the local Cantonese language.
Hong Kong residents like Alex Lau said the movie captures many people’s fears that local Hong Kong culture is gradually eroding, along with the political freedoms the city has long enjoyed. “We don’t want Hong Kong people to change and be like Chinese people. So we worry about this,” he said.
The film’s general release in Hong Kong was short, with some theaters refusing to carry the movie. Still, audiences have flocked to community screenings throughout the city.
Pro-democracy activist Joseph Cheung said the movie’s popularity reflects the concerns of Hong Kong’s citizens.
“The political appeal, the political messages, of course are the ones that have been attracting the audience, and that is a bit surprising, and that also reflects the worry and the political concerns of Hong Kong people today,” he said.
The film, which cost just $64,000 to make, has earned nearly $800,000 in ticket sales since its release in December.