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Ten Years Failed to Imagine Hong Kong

Ten Years Failed to Imagine Hong Kong

Hearing about all the controversy of the Hong Kong feature Ten Years that has promised to ban all the participating filmmakers from making commercial movies in China, I was looking forward to watching the screener link furtively sent to me by a Chinese friend. Ten Years is an anthology of five short films or stories imagining Hong Kong ten years later in 2025. The result is a hodgepodge of imaginative failures that teeter between drab masturbation to feverish anti-China propaganda.

The five shorts were shoddily written and put together… and the fact that the feature could garner a Best Feature Nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards shows the artistic gap in filmmaking between Hong Kong and the more distinguished regions of the world. The film does hold some interest in the Chinese context as both Hong Kong and greater mainland audience are curious about how political sensitive or abrasive the material is… yet the feature as a whole doesn’t rise above student filmmaking grade in terms of both ideology and execution.

An American friend of mine fell asleep halfway… while a mainland Chinese friend and I watched with curiosity despite knowing how silly the material actually was. The best and most dramatic short is perhaps the fourth short about a mysterious self-immolation.

Ironically, self-immolation was practiced about a decade or two ago by illegal or semi-legal Chinese immigrants who couldn’t get themselves legal citizenship in Hong Kong. All in all, it would be a pity for the five filmmakers to get themselves banned from commercial filmmaking for such mediocre artistic efforts, far from the league of banned Chinese masterpieces such as Farewell My Concubine and East Palace, West Palace.

Rather than being an insightful imagination of the future, Ten Years is a record of today’s hopelessness and narrow-minded state of Hong Kong.

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2 Comments on this Post

  1. herbert

    Wow, isn’t this the same shallow and intentionally dense angle that the likes of Global Times used to disparage this film? Quentin Lee, you’re aren’t from Hong Kong so you have that going for you too. You should write for a CCP mouthpiece! I bet the pay is better.

    What is the reference to self-immolation by mainlanders in Hong Kong? Are you seriously referring to the thugs who set an immigration officer alight in 2000, killing him? Christ how can you pack so much drivel into a flimsy 1 minute read.

  2. The only failure here is the obvious party-line towing of the author. Imaginative story telling to look into dystopian futures has always been the basis of generating discussion about the potential erosion of our future freedoms and life. Bladerunner, Ghost in the shell, 1984. The only difference between these movies and ‘Ten Years’ is the directors for those films didn’t earn a ban from working in certain countries because of their bravery to put the question out there. There are no flying cars or cyborg people roaming the streets of the previewed futures, but the question of ‘what if’ was put out there, and to ask this politically to the general public in a sensitive time where one can get arrested, abducted or reditioned for doing the very same I think there’s nothing more noble nor more brave.

    One wonders if the author of this article has the guts to do the same, or if having spent life in another country without limitations of speech or personal liberties makes it easy to find flaws in the works of those want to speak out at great personal risk and to belittle the imaginative insights dystopia gives to furthering discussion of the future. Or perhaps we should just accept the future will be perfect, nothing will go wrong, so why moan about it in any form? Just carry on and imagine all is well and we have no reason to complain. How dare we attempt to share our concerns and worries, no matter how overly done? What conceit.

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