Magazine article Screen International

Ten Years': Review

Magazine article Screen International

Ten Years': Review

Article excerpt

Dirs: Kwok Zune, Wong Fei-pang, Jevons Au, Chow Kwun-wai, Ng Ka-leung. Hong Kong, 2015, 103 mins

Rarely has Hong Kong politics been addressed as overtly as in Ten Years, a speculative science fiction anthology from a quintet of the city's most promising young directors. Depicting a dystopian future a decade from now, five vignettes reveal the anxieties, fears and inevitable truths of mainland China's strengthening grip on the former British colony.

After debuting at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival last October, Ten Years opened theatrically on a single screen in Hong Kong in December where it outsold Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Local distributor Golden Scene has since acquired worldwide sales rights, which bodes well for the film's future. Ten Years won't be playing in China anytime soon, but after securing a booth at the upcoming Hong Kong International Film Festival, it should travel on that circuit where it will attract anyone with an interest in the city's volatile political climate.

In September 2014, the Occupy Central movement clashed violently with police in Hong Kong's city centre, leading to a 75-day occupation of three city districts, and brought Hong Kong's growing dissatisfaction with escalating mainland interference and lack of universal suffrage to the world's attention. Emerging from this unrest - into an environment still plagued by scandals including the disappearance of five local publishers of literature banned in China - Ten Years portrays Hong Kong circa 2025 as a terrifying Orwellian police state. The city is policed by a brainwashed Youth Guard, the Cantonese dialect and even phrases such as "local" are being forced out of use, and political assassinations are orchestrated by shady Beijing officials to usher in restrictive new legislation.

Independent filmmaking with this degree of inflamatory content is unheard of in Hong Kong, especially in the current climatewhere little gets financed that has any chance of upsetting China's rigorous, opaque censors. That Ten Years exists at all is therefore something of a minor miracle, and that is also able to express its concerns with clarity, articulation and dramatic rigour makes it essential viewing.

Extras follows a pair of migrant workers hired to assassinate a local politician by a cabal of policymakers looking to fast-track a new National Security Law. …

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