Agents tried to block my film, says director

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 June, 2012, 12:00am


A film director has warned that Beijing's stranglehold on dissent is tightening around Hong Kong after mainland security agents came to the city to warn him against releasing his latest film.

Shanghai filmmaker Ying Liang spoke out in the wake of the death of veteran activist Li Wangyang - who was found hanging in a mainland hospital just days after he talked about the repercussions of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown in an interview with a Hong Kong television station.

Ying said the authorities were determined to prevent him from showing When Night Falls, a movie based on the true story of a man sentenced to death for killing six Shanghai policemen after a trial many believe was unfair.

The film is to get its first public screening in Hong Kong at the Academy for Performing Arts' Bethanie Campus in Pok Fu Lam on Sunday.

The agents' visit to Ying, who has been artist-in-residence at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts since last September, came two months after police first paid a visit to his family on the mainland to 'talk about' the movie.

Ying said it was the first of seven visits in 12 days as the authorities piled on the pressure to re-edit the film. Otherwise, his family was told, Ying would be arrested on his return to the mainland.

The filmmaker, who is hoping the academy will extend his residency in September, said his own visit from security agents followed in April. He was advised not to go ahead with the film debut at South Korea's Jeonju International Film Festival because it was not a true projection of the case and would 'hurt the feelings' of certain people.

Ying refused the demand, and the screening went ahead later that month. The festival also rejected an anonymous mainland film firm's approach to buy the film's rights.