The Hong Kong film industry has been quick to condemn a court decision which handed suspended jail sentences to two film crew for possession of counterfeit money.
Cheung Wai-chuen, owner of a well-known film properties company, and Law Yun-lam, a logistics firm employee, were sentenced to four months in prison on Thursday by a Hong Kong district court. The sentence was suspended for two years.
The British pounds, Chinese Yuan and U.S. and Hong Kong dollars found in Law’s car and at Cheung’s warehouse were prop banknotes used in the 2016 film “Trivisa.” Despite the notes being marked as props, the judge told the court that the fake money looked too real. “Nobody could rule out the risk of people stealing these fakes and using them as real money,” she said.
“This is against the industry’s dedication to professionalism in filmmaking. The authorities’ took on a case that case was unjust. Members of the Hong Kong film industry are not only disappointed and furious, it also sends shivers down our spines,” said the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers in a statement.
With every aspect of Hong Kong society nowadays politicized, some in the industry suspect not just a heavy-handed judge, but the influence of the mainland Chinese government. Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China with its own common law legal system and independent courts. But “Trivisa” fell foul of Beijing.
A 1997-set gangland drama, it was banned in China. Even the broadcast of its winning the prize for best picture at the 2017 Hong Kong Film Awards was blacked out on Chinese TV broadcasts.
“Not only is our hard work not appreciated. Such treatment will only kill the Hong Kong film industry in the end,” said the Federation.
Local producer, Katherine Lee vented her dismay on Facebook. “Joke of the world!! HK government just JAILED a props supervisor for the possession of PROPS MONEY !!! WTF,” she said.