Sars support group slams zombie movie as disrespectful

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 October, 2013, 3:26am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 October, 2013, 3:26am

A locally made, low-budget film featuring zombies suffering from Sars has been blasted as inappropriate and disrespectful by survivors of the deadly virus, which killed 299 people in Hong Kong 10 years ago.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome also infected 8,000 people worldwide and claimed 774 lives.

SARS Zombies - depicting Sars-infected people turning into zombies who then go on a killing rampage - was a shocking work of insensitivity, said Lam Chi-yau, chairman of the Hong Kong SARS Mutual Help Association.

"It's shocking that on the 10th anniversary, there is a movie that focuses on violence and a twisted depiction of Sars patients turning into zombies," he said.

The film's website describes it as a metaphor for Hong Kong's situation: a "sick city with an incurable virus; with problems like high land prices, government policies, a wide wealth gap and parallel-trader issues, all eating away at Hongkongers' spirit like the deadly epidemic".

But Lam said the film was disturbing for survivors and extremely disrespectful to the dead - some of whom were medical staff who heroically gave their lives for others during the epidemic in 2003.

The association issued their complaint in an open letter that was forwarded to the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Windsor Cinema in Causeway Bay, where the film had its first screening last night.

"We are open to discussing with the EOC what action can be taken," said Lam, adding the film was to screen for just three days.

A commission spokeswoman said it had received the letter and would look into the matter.

The first Sars case was reported in a village in Foshan, Guangdong in 2002. By February 2003, Beijing had reported 300 cases and five deaths. That month, a medical professor, 64, from Guangzhou brought the virus to Hong Kong, where it spiralled out of control and spread worldwide. Outbreaks in Amoy Gardens and the Prince of Wales Hospital prompted emergency measures, including closing schools. Six medical workers in the city died.