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Hong Kong indie film beats 'Star Wars' at some theaters
03:03 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

'Ten Years," a series of dystopian vignettes about Hong Kong's future, wins Best Film at local film festival

Film offers dark predictions of city's future under greater Chinese rule

Chinese media criticized it for "wanting to scare the public in Hong Kong and spread anxiety"

Award-winning film outperformed Star Wars at the box office in Hong Kong

Hong Kong CNN  — 

“Ten Years,” a controversial low-budget independent movie that predicts a bleak future of oppression and censorship for Hong Kong under increased Chinese rule has won Best Film at the 35th Hong Kong Film Awards – the city’s version of the Oscars.

The film, which achieved huge success in Hong Kong, has been censored and denounced on the mainland. Several Chinese web portals that had streamed the film awards ceremony in the past did not do so this year over fears that “Ten Years” would win.

The nationalistic Chinese tabloid Global Times slammed the film as “absurd” and accused the filmmakers of wanting to “scare the public in Hong Kong and spread anxiety.”

The film’s creators thanked the Film Awards for its “courage” in giving the award to the contentious project.

“Thank you for having the courage to give this to us,” producer Andrew Choi said in his acceptance speech.

“This award shows that Hong Kong actually has hope. This award tells us that we need to keep working hard.”

Dark vision

Set in 2025 – a decade on from its release – “Ten Years” predicts far greater Chinese control of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), with restrictions placed on the use of the Cantonese dialect, uniformed “youth guards” attacking shops selling banned materials, and desperate protesters driven to self-immolation as Beijing tightens its grip on the city.

‘One country, two systems’: How Hong Kong remains distinct from China

Director Chow Kwun-wai told CNN earlier this year that the film was an attempt to shock audiences into taking concrete action to better their situation now, lest they be left with only terrible choices later on.

“Hong Kong has been fighting for democracy for many years, and we’ve been lied to for many years,” he said.

Huge success

The terrifying vision of the future in “Ten Years” has resonated with audiences in the city, even outperforming “Star Wars” in one cinema on the two films’ opening weekends.

After its initial success, the film opened city-wide, far exceeding its creators’ expectations.

“The reaction was quite unexpected,” director and co-producer Ng Ka-Leung told CNN.

On April 1, more than a dozen special screenings were held of the film around the city, to packed crowds, and the filmmakers are in talks with international distributors.