Fears of censorship after Hong Kong film festival pulls opener for ‘technical reasons’

Laura Westbrook
·3-min read

The Hong Kong International Film Festival has cancelled the world premiere of the highly anticipated crime thriller Where the Wind Blows at the request of the movie’s owner and due to “technical reasons” – a term one industry figure says is often used when censorship is involved in the decision.

The film from writer-director Philip Yung Tsz-kwong and starring celebrated actors Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Aaron Kwok Fu-shing was to open the festival at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre on April 1. But the organisers announced this week the screening had been axed.

The film was made by Hong Kong’s Mei Ah Film Production in a co-venture with mainland Chinese firms Dadi Century and Global Group.

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One local film critic told the Post: “In the past, technical issues has often been used as a catch-all term to cover issues relating to censorship.”

Documentary covering Polytechnic University clashes pulled from cinema

But Tenky Tin Kai-man, executive committee chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, said the movie might not have obtained the necessary approval from mainland censorship authorities and the owners did not want to jeapordise the upcoming screening over the border, so they cited “technical reasons”.

While films were regularly pulled from mainland festivals, they were rarely cancelled in the Asian financial hub, he added.

When the Cultural Revolution-era film One Second by famed director Zhang Yimou was pulled from the prestigious 69th Berlin Film Festival in 2019, the official Weibo account for the movie also cited “technical reasons”.

Set in 1960s Hong Kong, Where the Wind Blows centres on the “friendship and rivalry between two resourceful police detectives who forge dangerous alliances with organised crime,” according to the festival’s website. Yung, from Huizhou in Guangdong province, also directed May We Chat (2013) and the award-winning Port of Call (2015).

The Post has reached out to the organisers for comment.

The festival, which runs April 1-12, is making more than 50 documentaries and features available for people to watch at home, while over 200 titles will screen at venues around the city, although capacity will be cut in half due to social-distancing rules enacted to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Broadcaster drops Academy Awards telecast after 52 years

Earlier this week Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) revealed it would not show the Oscars for the first time in more than half a century in a “purely commercial” decision. But the move came amid reports Beijing had told mainland media to boycott the Academy Awards following the nomination of Do Not Split, a 35-minute documentary about the 2019 Hong Kong protests and remarks made by Beijing-born director Chloe Zhao that were deemed controversial by Chinese internet users.

Zhao was nominated in the best director category for the US-based drama Nomadland.

Earlier this month, the award-winning documentary Inside the Red Brick Wall, which portrayed fierce clashes at a university during the social unrest was pulled ahead of its cinema screening. Pro-Beijing newspapers accused the film of glorifying radicals and inciting hatred against police and the government, warning it could be in breach of the national security law.

The film was to be shown at Golden Scene cinema in Kennedy Town as part of a series of screenings for the winners of the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards.

This article Fears of censorship after Hong Kong film festival pulls opener for ‘technical reasons’ first appeared on South China Morning Post

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