Man jailed in 1967 riots to produce film about unrest

Raymond Young calls period of action against colonial government ‘greatest taboo in Hong Kong’s history’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 August, 2016, 8:49pm
UPDATED : Monday, 08 August, 2016, 10:59pm

The first ever feature film based on the 1967 riots, produced by a former leftist student who was jailed during those tumultuous months, is slated to hit screens by the end of this year.

May Days will blend politics and romance, in a low-budget production its director claims will be “100 per cent locally made”.

Director Lai Man-cheuk’s creation explores one of the most controversial and defining periods in the city’s history. Inspired by the Cultural Revolution which erupted on the mainland a year earlier, the 1967 riots saw pro­-Beijing radicals attempt to overthrow the British colonial government through strikes, violent clashes with police and bombings.

Police revise controversial account of communist-inspired riots in 1967

Sparked by disputes at an artificial flower factory, the four months of disturbances, which nearly brought the city to a standstill, claimed 51 lives. Nearly 2,000 people were jailed.

It is a topic that local filmmakers have stayed silent on for almost half a century, and one that Lai admitted wanting to make a film on ever since he experienced the events 50 years ago.

Watch: retiree seeks to clear name over 1967 riots

The film’s producer Raymond Young, who at age 16 was imprisoned for 18 months during the height of the riots for producing and distributing “inflammatory leaflets” to fellow students, spoke out yesterday on the silence.

Veteran unionist Yeung Kwong, ringleader in 1967 Hong Kong riots, dies at 89

“Are Hong Kong’s filmmakers scared or ignorant? Or is it because 1967 was the largest brainwashing exercise and greatest taboo in Hong Kong’s history?”

Shot on a budget of under HK$5 million, the film was mostly financed by Young. Lai turned down mainland investors.

Starring veteran TVB comedian Liu Wai-hung, the film will begin shooting next month.