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Hong Kong protest film screening pulled after media attacks
Inside the Red Brick Wall. 2020. Hong Kong. Directed by Hong Kong Documentary Filmmakers. Courtesy the filmmakers.



HONG KONG (AFP).- An award-winning documentary about Hong Kong's massive pro-democracy protests was pulled hours before its first commercial screening on Monday after days of criticism from a pro-Beijing's newspaper.

"Inside the Red Brick Wall", which documents a violent standoff between police and protesters on a university campus in 2019, was due to debut in a newly opened commercial cinema in Hong Kong on Monday evening.

But the Hong Kong Film Critics Society said it was cancelling the screening.

The sudden announcement illustrates the fear caused by a sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong last year, stifling street protests but also filtering down into the city's once vibrant arts scene.

Wen Wei Po, a prominent Beijing mouthpiece newspaper in Hong Kong, ran multiple articles condemning the screening and accusing organisers of breaching the security law.

"The movie incited resistance against the police and the Hong Kong government and spread hatred against our country," the paper said in one editorial.

The Hong Kong Film Critics Society blamed "excessive attention the screenings recently got" adding it would also pull a second showing which had been added because of public demand for tickets.

Enoch Tam, a film critic who had been invited to give a post-screening talk, took to Facebook to say that Hong Kong's commercial cinemas have increasingly avoided political films in recent years.

"The situation worsened under the national security law," he wrote.

The 88-minute documentary, produced in 2020 by a group of anonymous Hong Kong filmmakers, won the best editing award from the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), Europe's largest documentary film festival.

It was named after the signature red brick walls of Hong Kong's Polytechnic University, where thousands of pro-democracy protests were besieged by armed riot police for two weeks in November 2019.

Over 1,300 protesters were arrested during the standoff.

The movie also won the annual grand prize from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society and was therefore included in the commercial screenings of all winning projects.

"My first reaction [to the cancellation] was to look for other venues so we can organise a few more screenings for those who want to watch," veteran documentary filmaker Vincent Chui, who is in charge of distribution of the movie, told AFP after the cancellation.

"I understand the pressure a commercial cinema must face but I think the real question is: what is wrong with the movie in the government's eyes?" he added.

Last September, Hong Kong's film censor issued a public screening license to the documentary after rating it as a Level III movie -- which can't be shown to viewers aged under 18 -- and pressing the producers to add warning of criminal scenes.

"We will carry on producing movies because every piece counts even when no cinema wants to show it," Chui said.


© Agence France-Presse










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