A screening of a documentary about migrant workers in Taiwan has been scrapped after Hong Kong censors requested the removal of protest scenes, according to the film’s director.

The Lucky Woman. Photo: screenshot.

The Taiwanese documentary The Lucky Woman was initially scheduled to be screened as part of the Hong Kong Arts Centre’s ifva All About Us Film Festival 2022 on October 30.

However, the documentary’s director Tseng Wen-chen announced on the film’s Facebook page on Monday night that she had decided to pull the film from the festival. She said that festival staff had informed her that the Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration (OFNAA) would not approve the screening of The Lucky Woman without the removal of certain scenes.

Tseng told HKFP that OFNAA had requested that scenes of migrant workers rallying in front of Taiwan’s Presidential Office Building be removed, saying that the government censors saw those scenes as a “protest.”

The ifva’s All About Us Film Festival 2022. Photo: screenshot.

“This footage is considered ‘normal’ in Taiwan – I just wanted to present the situation at the scene of the protest. Suddenly – and unfortunately, too – this cannot be screened in Hong Kong,” Tseng said, adding that she had been looking forward to talking about the issue of migrant workers with a Hong Kong audience in the post-screening discussion.

As of Tuesday, the documentary was still listed on the festival website, however, online ticketing for the film had closed. HKFP has reached out to ifva for comment, while OFNAA said it would not comment on individual films.

A synopsis of “The Lucky Woman” on ifva website. Photo: screenshot.

Tseng, who won the Best Documentary Award at Taiwan’s prestigious Golden Horse Award in 2002, spent six years filming two Vietnamese workers who have been living in Taiwan illegally. The Lucky Woman was previously selected for the 2022 Taiwan International Documentary Festival and the 2020 Women Make Waves International Film Festival, and will be screened next month as part of Tokyo’s Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival.

Second ifva screening axed

This is the second time a film has been pulled from an ifva festival. Hong Kong director Erica Kwok, whose short film was supposed to be shown as part of the ifva Awards, was informed that the film had not passed OFNAA’s evaluation in June.

At least seven films have failed to pass OFNAA evaluation this year, most of which were short films that were scheduled to be screened at festivals, according to HKFP’s database. Of those seven, OFNAA told HKFP that two films were not permitted to be screened this year – not even with cuts or edits.

Hong Kong Arts Centre. Photo: Hillary Leung/HKFP.

Separately, screenings of two short films slated to be showcased at Fresh Wave International Short Film Festival were cancelled after OFNAA did not respond following their submission for reviews.

Last week, an event organiser cancelled the screening of a Batman movie upon OFNAA’s recommendation that its level of violence was “not appropriate” to be shown outdoors.

The government said last year that the updated Film Censorship Ordinance “aims to ensure more effective fulfilment of the duty to safeguard national security as required by the National Security Law.”

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Lea Mok

Lea Mok is a multimedia reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously contributed to StandNews, The Initium, MingPao and others. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.