The Hong Kong International Film Festival has denied accusations that it rejected the entry of a documentary on the 1967 leftist riots in the city for trivial reasons.

On Thursday, online outlet Citizen News cited Vanished Archives director Connie Lo as alleging that the festival did not want the documentary to be screened because “the female voice-over was too irritating” and “the entire film had zero artistic sense.”

Photo: Vanished Archives via Facebook.

“The [film festival] director saw it, but his assistant fell asleep after five minutes, and slept through the entire film,” added Lo. “[The director said his assistant] watched it even with his eyes closed.”

Lo alleged that when she questioned the film festival director on his claim that the documentary had no artistic merit, the director replied: “I represent the entire film industry.”

‘False and inaccurate’

The festival published a press release refuting Lo’s claims on Thursday evening, saying that they were “false and inaccurate.”

“Over the past decades, the Hong Kong International Film Festival has selected films based on their artistic merits,” it read. “The festival receives a large number of submissions every year and we normally would not give any reason for rejection.”

Connie Lo. Photo: Vanished Archives via Facebook.

“In this particular case, we gave our comments to the director as a personal favour, and we are surprised to see that our comments have been misrepresented in such a way as to mislead the public,” it added.

“We… express our disappointment that the filmmaker has chosen to criticise the festival in this way.”

Community screenings

Vanished Archives interviews former leftist union leaders, students and law enforcement personnel to recount the history of the 1967 riots. It also reviews old media reports, government documents and British archives.

That year, large-scale pro-communist protests were staged in sympathy with the mainland Cultural Revolution and against British rule in Hong Kong. In the unrest 51 people were killed, including 15 by home-made bombs and Commercial Radio commentator Lam Bun, who was burnt to death.

The documentary premiered with screenings at the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in February and March respectively. Since then, it has been screened at small community venues.

Last year, the Hong Kong International Film Festival screened Ten Years, a low-budget hit that imagined a politically and socially dystopian future for Hong Kong in a decade’s time.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.