Hong Kong Film Awards faces calls to change voting system after controversial Ten Years named best picture

Motion Picture Industry Association pushes for overhaul of weighted voting system

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 April, 2016, 11:07pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 April, 2016, 11:07pm

The Hong Kong Film Awards will discuss a group of filmmakers’ proposal on changing its “unfair” voting system, after a controversial low-budget production scooped the city’s top film prize in April.

However, the Motion Picture Industry Association has been the lone voice in proposing changes to the system among 14 organisations involved in the voting, as the other members either declined to comment on the proposal, or could not be reached.

In April, some filmmakers were shocked after Ten Years, which depicts a dystopian future with diminished human rights as Beijing exerts greater control over Hong Kong, upset the odds to win best picture at the annual film awards.

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The decision sparked debate on whether the accolade was politically motivated, given current divisions in the city. Film Awards Association chair and film director Derek Yee Tung-sing admitted judges could have been “driven by sentiment” in making their decision, while Daniel Lam Siu-ming, head of Universal International film production company, warned that his company might quit the awards if the “irrational” film awards voting system was not changed.

Currently, a group of 55 jurors, mostly filmmakers and actors, and hundreds of voting members from 14 organisations such as the MPIA and the Film Directors’ Guild, are responsible for choosing a winner for each of the awards’ various prizes. Yet their votes weigh differently, as the jurors’ vote account for 55 per cent of the total score, while the group of hundreds of voters account for the remaining 45 per cent.

MPIA chairman Crucindo Hung Cho-sing told the Post that the “imbalance” has to end.

“Now 55 jurors can control the outcome ... But there are about 1,000 eligible voters in the 14 organisations, and they should be deciding the winners by ‘one man, one vote’,” Hung proposed.

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The 55 jurors should instead join the panel of 100 adjudicators and film industry voters in nominating the top five films for the 14 organisations’ members to choose from, he added.

Tenky Tin Kai-man, vice-chairman of the awards association’s voting affairs committee, had said that ad said that he did not believe anyone could manipulate the voting. But he told the Post that his committee will discuss the MPIA’s proposal at their next meeting, which will take place in a few months.

“Personally, I am open to proposals ... that are workable and accepted by the industry in general,” Tin said. “We need to gather more data to find out what exactly happened in the voting.”

He will also invite opinion from members of the Movie Production Executives Association, which he chairs. The MPIA is represented both on the committee and on the awards association’s board.

Ten Year’s directors could not be reached for comment, but Shu Kei, a filmmaker and chairman of the school of film and television at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, said Hung should proof how the 55 jurors “controlled the outcome”. Hung said he did not know how important were the jurors in Ten Years’ triumph. He just wanted to make the system fairer in general, Hung said.

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Five other organisations involved in the awards’ voting - the directors, artistes, and screenwriters’ guilds, the Stuntman Association and Composers and Authors Society - said they would not comment on the proposal yet. Two organisations, which represent post-production professionals and cinema managers respectively, did not respond to the Post’s inquiry.