The cinema screening of a documentary about a violent campus clash between student protesters and police in 2019 was cancelled at short notice on Monday, days after a pro-Beijing newspaper claimed the film may violate the national security law.

Golden Scene Cinema and the Hong Kong Film Critics Society announced the cancellation of the showing of Inside the Red Brick Wall on Facebook three hours before screening was due to start, citing “excessive attention” over the last couple of days.

Golden Scene Cinema
Golden Scene Cinema. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

The documentary, which portrayed the fierce clashes between pro-democracy protesters and police at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in 2019, was to be part of the showcasing of winners at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards.

Tickets for the two shows, on Monday and the following Sunday, sold out within half an hour. The cinema said ticket holders can apply for a refund at the cinema in Kennedy Town or mail the ticket to the movie theatre along with personal details.

The cancellation came after a Wen Wei Po editorial urged the government to ban the screening, and said Inside the Red Brick Wall “blatantly spreads messages of police-hating, anti-society and even subversion.”

The show on Monday would have been the film’s first screening in a commercial theatre since its release in January last year.

The movie’s distributor Ying E Chi thanked Golden Scene Cinema on Facebook for attempting to showcase the movie following the cancellation.

Behind the Red Brick Wall
Behind the Red Brick Wall. Photo: Ying E Chi Cinema, via Facebook.

“Although the reality is harsh, Hong Kong documentary film makers still stick to their posts and shoot world-recognised work for Hong Kong people,” the statement read. “That’s why Ying E Chi will continue to try and arrange screenings for the audience.”

“We can foresee that screenings in the future will only become more difficult, and we will treasure each opportunity, and at the same time hope that everyone can treasure each viewing opportunity.”

In a previous screening of Inside the Red Brick Wall at the Hong Kong Arts Centre last September, the film was classified as a Category III adults-only film two hours before the start. Ying E Chi was required to add a warning which read that some scenes “may constitute criminal offences,” and “may be unverified or misleading.”

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.