Thousands of curious Chinese citizens have been downloading American romantic comedy Ten Years in the hope of viewing the controversial 2015 Hong Kong thriller of the same name. The 2011 box office flop was the second most downloaded file on the YYeTs website, a popular portal in the mainland for illegal downloads of American and European films. It came days after the Hong Kong socio-political fantasy, also entitled Ten Years, won the award for Best Film at the 35th Hong Kong Film Awards.

Ten Years is a dark socio-political fantasy that imagines how Hong Kong may look like in the year 2025. Five directors produced five shorts exploring a city where shops are attacked by uniformed army cadets for selling banned materials, where Mandarin is the dominant language, and where an activist self-immolates in a fight for the city’s independence.

News of its win at the film awards was censored in China and, in late January, China’s state newspaper Global Times criticised the film as “ridiculous,” saying that it was “spreading desperation”.

Chinese netizens expressed their disappointment on the download site: “I thought this was the 35th Hong Kong Film Awards Best Film winner ‘Ten Years,’” said one commenter.

“Haha, clickbait. This must have been on purpose,” said another.

“HK at least has the separation of the three powers, at least they can decide on what films they want to watch, at least their kids won’t be made to become brainwashed products of some political party,” another commenter said.

‘Gigantic mistake’

Wong Pak-ming, director of Pegasus Motion Pictures, told local media on Monday that the decision to give the award to the film was a “joke” and “a gigantic mistake.”

Director Chow Kwun-wai on the right. Photo: Screenshot via RTHK.

One of its directors, however, told RTHK on Tuesday that the film was not promoting any political systems.

“Ten Years is not promoting anything… It is promoting values. It is promoting our desire to pursue happiness… so let’s not let politics take over the film.” said Chow Kwun-wai, a director of one of the short films.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.