August 3, 2021

in Hong Kong, censorship goes beyond fiction

Until the announcement, not really unexpected, of the new censorship guidelines for films produced and shown in Hong Kong, which fell on June 11, the mission of the Hong Kong censors was fairly standard: it mainly concerned nudity, scenes from sex, violence, torture, etc. It had to take into account local sensitivities on religious or racial issues, but overall, and unlike Chinese audiences, Hong Kong moviegoers have always had access to a fairly eclectic sample of global film production.

But the censors of the former British colony now have an infinitely more complicated and risky task. “When analyzing the film as a whole and its impact on viewers, the censor must take into account his obligation to prevent and prevent any act or activity that may constitute a threat to national security”, indicates the amendment to the decree on censorship.

He must show « vigilance » against the representation on the screen “An act or activity which could be assimilated to an offense endangering national security”. A film that would be “Objectively and reasonably likely to be perceived as supporting, encouraging, glorifying (…) such acts or activities should also be censored ”. The text specifies that it is “Safeguard sovereignty, unity and the territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China ” And this “In the name of the people of Hong Kong”.

The fear of the “red line”

Since the promulgation of a law for the preservation of national security (LSN) prepared and imposed by Beijing on its special administrative region on June 30, 2020, all aspects of Hong Kong society have been gradually subjected to the terrifying “red line”. », Which nobody knows exactly where it is located but which everyone is afraid to cross. Under the LSN, some fifty members of the pro-democracy opposition are being prosecuted for “sedition”, accused of having organized or participated in primaries.

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Therefore, as a precaution, will the censors ban fictions talking about elections, revolutions, independence movement, spy films, war films, betrayal or plots scenarios? “To my local artist friends and to me, this sounds like a new cultural revolution. They started to ban certain books in libraries, to say that it is the police who will decide if a painting has its place in the museum or not, now it is the films… I perceive a sincere fear among most of my colleagues, all plan to leave Hong Kong or to continue in hiding ”, confides the artist Kacey Wong, himself a director of performance films.

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