The Hong Kong film Ten Years is a collection of five short films depicting what Hong Kong would be like in 10 years (2025). It shows how human rights and freedoms will gradually diminish as the Mainland Chinese government (CCP) exerts increasing influence there.
While produced on a shoestring budget, the film surprisingly attracted more people than Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the Yau Ma Tei cinema where it was first released. The film’s straightforward and forthright manner and sensitive political themes did not go unnoticed, with the CCP calling Ten Years “a virus of the mind,” and censoring any reports mentioning Ten Years, except in terms of condemnation.
Portraying the core value of Hong Kong’s freedom of speech, human rights, democracy, and other issues considered to be threats by the CCP, the film was nominated for the Best Film Award at the 35th Hong Kong Film Awards. Although state television channels and major Internet sites were prohibited from broadcasting the Hong Kong Film Awards, the film went on to win the award.
It received positive reviews from a majority of Hong Kong audiences; some critics even stated that it represented a declaration of the people of Hong Kong. One viewer, Pamela Lam, told ABC:
“The film is about 10 years in time, but it’s gradually happening in Hong Kong at the moment.
“I’m worried Hong Kong is just going to fade out and become another Chinese city.”
Another film-goer, Sandy Li, said that Ten Years:
“addresses our deepest concerns about Chinese control … that we will lose our identity and freedoms in Hong Kong”.
After winning the award for Best Film at the Hong Kong Film Awards, it set off a firestorm in the Hong Kong film industry. The five directors recently arrived in Taiwan to promote the film, and sat down with NTD TV to talk about the creative process.
Here is a bit of what they had to say…
Kwok Zune explained:
“For audiences in Hong Kong, it may be quite exciting to imagine what they believe the future will hold for them; I think this is the most significant aspect of the film. In recent years, very few Hong Kong films so closely depict conditions in Hong Kong society.”
Wong Fei-Pang said:
“We just wanted to shoot an honest film of what we would likely have.”
Zhou Guan Wei explained how:
“The film opens with a documentary about a fictional self-immolation incident in 2025 in front of the former British Consulate. It is a very stirring opening scene, because the content touches ‘Hong Kong Independence,’ some actors refused to participate during the audition.
“While ‘Ten Years’ had impressive box office figures, many theaters were unwilling to show the film, as they were afraid to be labelled.”
Ng Ka-Leung talked about censorship, saying:
“The impact of self-censorship is quite large, and it is more than just pressure from the top down…
Kwok Zune said:
“Ten Years is a special case. We frankly did what we believed in; even though we had fear in our hearts, we still needed to do the right thing.”
With courage and honesty, five young directors in Hong Kong made the film Ten Years to reflect today’s Hong Kong. The film will be released in August. The directors hope to inspire audiences in Taiwan to imagine how Taiwan could be in the next decade.
Translation edited by David Clapp and Troy Oakes.