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

Mainland web portal pulls out of screening Hong Kong ceremony despite contractual arrangement after backlash against ‘absurd and pessimistic’ film

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 February, 2016, 11:51am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 February, 2016, 1:42pm

Mainland Chinese audiences will be unable to catch Andy Lau Tak-wah, Jacky Cheung Hok-yau and Aaron Kwok Fu-shing on official broadcast as the former Heavenly Kings of Canto-pop vie for best actor glory at this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards ceremony at the Cultural Centre on April 3.

In what is generally believed to be a response to the best picture nomination of Ten Years – a politically sensitive film previously slammed by Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times for being absurd and pessimistic – the mainland web portal has pulled out from airing the ceremony, despite pre-existing contractual agreement with the awards association.

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

The association will lose out on a purported broadcasting fee of up to HK$5 million if the cancellation is confirmed, said Derek Yee Tung-sing, chairman of the association’s board of directors, in an interview with Ming Pao Daily. “We can understand why this film exists, and why this has become an issue,” he said.

This year’s nomination list was decided by 1,149 registered voters – including this writer – of which more than 63 per cent have cast their votes. The best picture nod is Ten Years’ only nomination at the awards. Port of Call , a grisly murder story that is anticipating a censored release in the mainland later this year, leads the pack with 13 nominations.

READ MORE: Crime drama Port of Call named 2015’s best picture by Hong Kong Film Critics Society

Ten Years screened to a sold-out crowd at Ma On Shan Classics Cinema on February 12, which marked a premature end to the low-budget film’s surprisingly profitable theatrical run. By taking in close to HK$6 million at the domestic box office, it has become one of the highest-grossing independent films in Hong Kong cinema history. And the film’s distribution prospects abroad are only starting to look up. According to a February 6 post on its official Facebook page, Ten Years’ overseas rights have been picked up by Golden Scene, the prolific distribution company that has represented such Hong Kong hits as The Midnight After and The Way We Dance.

READ MORE: Ten Years: Hong Kong film that beat Star Wars at the box office, and the directors behind it

Ten Years will next be receiving its international premiere at the Osaka Asian Film Festival. Screening on March 10 and 13 as part of the festival’s Special Focus on Hong Kong section, it is joined by four other local titles: Lazy Hazy Crazy , Robbery, She Remembers, He Forgets , and Wong Ka Yan .