More Ten Years fallout: Hong Kong movie producer threatens awards boycott unless voting is changed

Head of Universal International calls for review of “irrational” system

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 April, 2016, 11:44pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 April, 2016, 10:31am

Award-winning movie Ten Years has stoked fresh controversy after one movie maker threatened an awards ceremony boycott in the wake of its winning best picture at a recent industry competition and a newly launched TV station boss revealed it might want to buy it.

The low-budget production – which depicts a dystopian future with diminished human rights as Beijing exterts greater control over Hong Kong – won best picture at the city’s annual film awards on Sunday.

‘This award belongs to you all’: controversial hit Ten Years claims top prize at Hong Kong Film Awards

Since its triumph, it has been at the centre of a divisive debate that continued yesterday over the film’s political position.

The film has been criticised by some in the pro-government camp as “smearing of One Country Two Systems”, as it hypothesises the future of the political and social struggles between Hong Kong and mainland China.

An editorial by pro-establishment newspaper Ta Kung Pao criticised that the fear and alienation of Hongkongers with the mainland was “groundless” and “smearing with political rumours”.

The movie was said to threaten the cooperation between Hong Kong and mainland movie sectors, and damage the professional image of local movies.

That claim was made after Peter Lam Kin-ngok, boss of local movie company Media Asia, blasted the award for Ten Years as “politics kidnapping filmmaking”.

Motion Picture Industry Association chair Crucindo Hung Cho-sing questioned the professionalism of the movie, as it has not been nominated for the best actor, actress or cinematography in the latest Hong Kong Film Awards.

Liberal Party lawmaker James Tien Pei-chun said earlier that he was surprised the film, which he found “boring”, won the top honour.

“In terms of cinematography and editing, I think some of my videos are even better. Maybe the judges like the film because it reflects what happened in the past two years,” Tien said, referring to the Occupy protests of 2014 and the rise of localism.

Daniel Lam Siu-ming, head of Universal International film production company, called for a review of what he described as an “irrational” film awards voting system.

Lam, who is also a member of the Movie Producers and Distributors Association, suggested that if the system was not changed his company might quit the awards.

Separately, in response to a question about buying Ten Years at the official launch of the new PCCW-owned free-to-air TV station ViuTV, its general manager Lo Ting-fai was non-committal but said the matter was being actively considered.

“We have colleagues discussing this matter,” Lo said, adding that the new station’s priority was building an audience. Ten Years has packed out local public venues since its release.

ViuTV officially kicked off with eclectic offerings, such as popular Korean soap opera Descendants of the Sun and the much-hyped reality show Travel with Rivals. In the latter, the opening episode features the unlikely pairing of pro-establishment Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing with radical pan-democratic lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung on a trip to Poland.

Also yesterday, Luan Guozhi, deputy head of China’s media authority, described reports that the mainland had banned Ten Years as “hearsay”. Luan did not explain why its winning best picture on Monday was not reported in the mainland media.

The movie was also nowhere to be found on the mainland’s major online streaming portals, which at times put up titles that did not win approval to enter mainland cinemas.

The film has also drawn heavy criticism in state-controlled media such as Global Times.

The movie’s detractors have criticised the award voting system as open to political manipulation.

Crucindo Hung Cho-sing, chairman of the Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association, called for a reform of the system, which he said was unrepresentative of the industry.

But Tenky Tin Kai-man, a director of the awards association, said he did not believe anyone could manipulate the voting because every voter had only one vote to cast for each award. He added there was no money or concrete benefits given to award winners, so there would not be a motive to manipulate voting.

Tin said the awards had been in existence 35 years and that if there was something untoward, it would have happened long ago.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung yesterday refused to comment on the film, saying he had not seen it.

Additional reporting by Nikki Sun