‘Politics has kidnapped filmmaking’: Media Asia head Peter Lam slams Ten Years’ win at Hong Kong Film Awards

Local film company boss says controversial hit does not possess qualities of a top film, but democratic lawmakers offer praise – while another legislator says he simply found it ‘boring’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 April, 2016, 11:56am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 April, 2016, 1:48am

A controversial, low-budget film about a dystopian future for Hong Kong is generating plenty of debate and gaining more publicity after winning the city’s top film prize.

Ten Years upset the odds to win best picture at the Hong Kong Film Awards on Sunday after it was screened across the city to popular acclaim. But it has sparked plenty of debate on whether it was a political decision to recognise the film amid a highly politicised atmosphere in the city.

While pan-democratic party leaders congratulated the filmmakers who depicted grim predictions of life and freedom in Hong Kong in 2025, an entertainment mogul and a veteran filmmaker said political considerations were involved in the decision to award it the top prize.

News of the film’s success was censored on the mainland, triggering a heated discussion among internet users across the border.

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

Speaking after the awards ceremony, Peter Lam Kin-ngok, chairman of production company Media Asia, disagreed that Ten Years was the best film.

“It was unfair to filmmakers. Politics has kidnapped the profession and politicised film awards,” said Lam, who is also the city’s tourism chief and a local delegate to China’s top political advisory body.

Media Asia’s She Remembers, He Forgets was not nominated for best picture and only won the best original film song award.

Motion Picture Industry Association chair Crucindo Hung Cho-sing also said Ten Years’ victory was a “big joke”.

“It was not nominated for the best actor, actress or cinematography, so it doesn’t even match the standards of a best picture,” Hung said. “I don’t know if anyone was using the awards as a political tool.”

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Film Development Council chairman Ma Fung-kwok, a lawmaker, told the Post that makers of Ten Years might be “too worried” about Hong Kong’s future.

Liberal Party lawmaker James Tien Pei-chun told the Post he was surprised that the film, which he personally 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 2014’s Occupy protests and the rise of localism.

But writing on their Facebook pages, Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing and Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit applauded the film.

Shu Kei, a filmmaker and chair of the school of film and television at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, also said Ten Years “deserved the award”. More than 30 academy alumni were involved in the film’s production.

Film Awards Association chairman Derek Yee Tung-sing dismissed accusations of political interference, but admitted that judges could have been “driven by sentiment” in making their decision. Yee wrote online: “If you make everything political, there is nothing for me to linger on.”

The film, which has been strongly criticised by China’s state media since its release late last year, was only screened in a few cinemas in the city, but it has since been shown for free in neighbourhoods across Hong Kong.

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