Ten Years dares to be different – and daring is not a dirty word
The dystopian take on Hong Kong’s future highlights resentments in the city, and the worst thing we can do is pretend these problems do not exist
A genius is often mistaken for a nut, until this nut is proven right. By the same token, innovation and creativity are often grown in the seedbed of a passionate mindset that dares to be different.
And daring is not a dirty word.
Take for instance Ten Years, winner of Hong Kong’s 35th Best Film Award. This film is not Hollywood. It’s not Bollywood. It’s a genre all its own.
And it is controversial: this means it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Speaking as a film aficionado, I think the film’s five episodes symbolise freedom of thought in all its raw frankness.
To wit: the episode Dialect is about taxi drivers being required by law to speak Putonghua in 2025.
This fictional vignette puts the finger on the pulse as it highlights resentment towards being sidelined by a dialect which could make this city’s essentially Cantonese-speaking people feel like strangers in their own home.
Languages are important tools of communication.
In recent years, our linguistic environment has changed. People speak less English and more Putonghua. Yet both English and Putonghua are double Dutch to some of us.
Reality tells us, however, multilingual proficiency provides better options in life and opens up job opportunities. Faced with this situation, many feel helpless and marginalised.
This disenfranchisement may be an indictment of our various policies over the years.
No matter what the whys and wherefores, the worst scenario is to pretend problems do not exist. Sweeping things under the carpet helps no one, not even the carpet sweep.
Thus, the film’s dark political overtones and murky undertones of fear and frustration hold a mirror to this city.
The fact Ten Years is acclaimed here but censored in mainland attests to the city’s freedom of thought under the “one country, two systems” principle.
Coincidentally , the recent global “smiling index” survey shows that this shoppers’ paradise has come drop-dead last.
Ever an optimist, I believe that to bring back the smiles we need to be honest with ourselves. If we dare to share and care, we shall be able to diagnose the problems’ root causes and apply the right remedy to redress the situation.
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Elizabeth Wong Chien Chi-lien was secretary for health and welfare from 1990 to 1994 and a lawmaker from 1995 to 1997