Film groups displeased with independent film Ten Years’ win at the 2016 Hong Kong Film Awards proposed reforms to the judging mechanism at the award association’s board of directors meeting last month.

Ten Years, a dark socio-political fantasy that imagines what Hong Kong may look like in a decade, won “best film” at the 2016 Hong Kong Film Awards in April.  The movie was called a “miracle” for its success despite a limited showing at cinema chains. It was produced on a low budget of HK$500,000.

Crucindo Hung Cho-sing. Photo: Stand News.

Currently, the second stage of judging is conducted by a panel composed of 55 professional adjudicators in the film industry, as well as members from the 13 groups under the Hong Kong Film Awards Association and members of the Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong (CASH). Each of them casts an anonymous vote to decide which of the five shortlisted films will be the winner – the panel’s votes count for 55 per cent of the score while the 13 film groups and CASH make up 45 per cent.

The Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association and the Hong Kong Chamber of Films Limited proposed removing the professional adjudicators from the second round of judging and having the members of the 13 groups choose the winning work using a one-person-one-vote method.

They also suggested allowing the 55 professionals to take part in the first round of judging, but their vote will no longer count for 55 per cent and will carry equal weight as those of the members of the 13 groups. The groups threatened to pull out of the awards ceremony if the judging mechanism is not reviewed.

The changes were proposed by Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association Chairperson Crucindo Hung Cho-sing, who said that many, both within and outside of the film industry, were of the view that Ten Years did not deserve the best film award. He also said it was unfair for the professional panel to be able to control the results, Apple Daily reported.

However, the report said that some at the meeting were strongly opposed to the proposed changes. Yee will leave the decision to a vote at a meeting next Tuesday. Under Hong Kong Film Awards Association regulations, a motion proposed by a member on the board will be passed if it receives over half of the votes. If the motion is not passed, the two industry groups will then discuss their next step.

According to the report, Derek Yee Tung-sing, chairman of the awards, was summoned to the China Liaison Office after Ten Years was awarded best film.

Ten Years Executive Producer Andrew Choi said he did not feel that there was a need to reform the judging mechanism and that it would be a shame if it was changed just because Ten Years received the award.

Budming, a film critic who served as a judge this year, said, “the current judging mechanism allows for a broad range of people to be judges, and I don’t see how these changes would make it more fair. How is it unfair that Ten Years won?”

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Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.