Hong Kong’s dystopian film Ten Years screened to huge crowds across the city following overwhelming public demand

Film made on a budget of just HK$600,000 was phased out of cinemas early after it appeared to criticise mainland China’s policies towards Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 April, 2016, 12:08am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 April, 2016, 12:08am

A hugely popular dystopian film which presents a terrifying vision of Hong Kong in 2025 has been screened at venues across the city following overwhelming public demand.

Ten Years was shown to huge crowds at 30 locations across the city on Friday, many of them churches and community buildings, after it was apparently phased out of cinemas early despite record box office takings.

About 450 people gathered at a makeshift outdoor cinema in Wood Road, Wan Chai, to watch the film.

Lai Chong Au, a convener for community group Wan Chai Commons which organised the free screening, said she was “pleasantly surprised” by the turnout.

The Ten Years fall-out continues: Hong Kong Film Awards will not be televised in China

She told the Post: “I think everyone really enjoyed it. The atmosphere was perfect. When it was first shown in cinemas, it was there was only a limited number of screenings. It became an important talking point in Hong Kong.”

She added Friday’s screening served as a “perfect example” of how Hong Kong’s public spaces could be used for community events.

There were similarly large crowds in the protest zone of the Legislative Council in the Admiralty district and next to the Quarry Bay wet markets.

Tickets for Ten Years, which was made in Hong Kong on a budget of just HK$600,000, sold out at most of the city’s cinemas when it was first released in December last year.

In the frame: low-budget film Ten Years nominated for top award, despite being slammed by mainland China media

At the Broadway Cinematheque in Yau Ma Tei where it was first screened, its ticket sales even eclipsed Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Ten Years includes scenes of a self-immolation in front of Hong Kong’s British Consulate and an assassination attempt in a city election.

China’s state-controlled Global Times condemned the film, branding it a “thought virus”. Soon after, it was pulled from Hong Kong’s cinemas.

Dominic Li, an independent film critic based in Hong Kong, said on Friday that the film’s popularity showed how it had directly engaged its audience.

He told the Post: “The movie uses quite an explicit way to tell the story, rather than a metaphor. It becomes a way for the audience to express their own feelings and ideas. It taps into the idea that the Chinese government is removing the collective memory of the community.”

Ten Years earns best picture nod in Hong Kong Film Awards after Global Times panned it

Despite the backlash from mainland China, executive producer Andrew Choi said he and his colleagues had not intended to make the film overtly “political”.

At the time it was pulled from screens, he said: “We were just trying to produce a film that we thought was true and reflected what is really happening in Hong Kong. Our intent was not to be a political film.”