Ten Years can be tedious but its theme about Hong Kong’s paranoia is not far off the mark
Things will only get worse before they get better; for that, the controversial, award-winning movie may even prove to be prescient
Movies with an overt political message that smack you in head to make sure you “get it” are typically tedious. To this end, Ten Years does not disappoint. Practically every scene is a display of some Hongkongers’ paranoid anti-mainland sentiment, from a taxi driver being forced to speak Putonghua to a store owner berated by children for advertising his eggs as “local”.
It’s not really a movie with a clear narrative but a series of vignettes about what life would be like in 10 years as imagined by localists and separatists. It suffers from the humourless literalism of the unartistic.
But, despite all that, it fully deserves winning the top prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards. It’s a perfect product of our time, capturing many people’s anxieties and fears about creeping mainland dominance, whether real or imagined.
It is, therefore, by definition, a serious movie. None of the other competing movies remotely approach Ten Years’ social relevance and political importance at this time.
So, it’s been a bit like watching the theatre of the absurd when so many of the industry’s great and good come out to denounce the film winning the award.
The awards’ voting system has been criticised as irrational and unrepresentative by Crucindo Hung Cho-sing, chairman of the Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association, and Daniel Lam Siu-ming, head of Universal International, a large film production company.
Tourism Board chairman and billionaire businessman Peter Lam Kin-ngok said: “Politics has kidnapped the profession and politicised film awards”.
Clearly the movie touches a raw nerve. But let’s not bury our heads in the sand by denouncing a political movie for being political and dismissing the fears and concerns it depicts.
It’s too bad that Ten Years has been reportedly banned on the mainland. Watching this movie will help mainlanders, or any foreigner, understand better the angst of a typical youngish person in Hong Kong.
Whatever Beijing’s real or supposed intentions towards Hong Kong, our paranoia and fears are real enough, and are increasingly being channelled into radical politics, even rioting. Clearly, things will only get worse before they get better. For that, Ten Years may even prove to be prescient.