In an extra blow to the once-thriving film-making hub, Hong Kong’s opposition-free legislature handed a brand new censorship regulation banning movies it deems are in opposition to China’s nationwide safety pursuits.
The movie censorship regulation, handed on Wednesday however long-mooted, features a punishment of as much as three years imprisonment and $130,000 in fines for violations. The regulation provides Hong Kong’s chief secretary broad powers to revoke a movie’s licence whether it is discovered to “endorse, help, glorify, encourage and incite actions which may endanger nationwide safety.”
Instituting higher censorship on inventive freedom will carry Hong Kong additional into line with China, the place the nationwide censorship board routinely bans content material. Arguably, the brand new regulation codifies an more and more restrictive censorship surroundings, as evidenced earlier this yr when the opening movie of the Hong Kong Worldwide Movie Competition, Philip Yung’s gangster thriller The place the Wind Blows, was pulled for “technical causes,” which has turn out to be a typical business euphemism for censorship complaints from Beijing.
The brand new regulation, nonetheless, is more likely to reinforce Hong Kong’s decline as a movie and tv manufacturing hub and push extra filmmakers unwilling to self-censor to hitch the hundreds of people that have already left the territory since a brutal authorities crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019.
The regulation additionally calls into query the content material held on internationally-owned streaming platforms which have, till now, operated freely in Hong Kong. The likes of Netflix, Amazon and YouTube have been providing their full companies in Hong Kong, regional licensing offers allowing, and Disney+ is about to hitch them subsequent month.
“The brand new movie guidelines in Hong Kong could have a chilling impact,” director Joe Piscatella instructed The Hollywood Reporter earlier this yr when the define of the brand new censorship regulation was floated. Piscatella directed 2017’s Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower, the Netflix doc that adopted jailed Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong. As of Thursday, Hong Kong time, the doc was nonetheless on Netflix’s service within the territory.
“One of many final vestiges of free speech in Hong Kong is now gone. The result’s self-censorship by filmmakers who now need to query what may run afoul of the brand new guidelines and elevated scrutiny by financiers and distributors who now should contemplate that exact same query,” Piscatella added.
Hong Kong handed a wide-ranging Nationwide Safety Regulation in June 2020 and its results have been far-reaching, touching upon politics, the media, schooling and the humanities.