The team behind the award-winning controversial Hong Kong dystopian drama “Ten Years” has launched a new streaming platform focusing on short films about the ongoing protests that have gripped the city since June.
Backed by Next Digital, which publishes Apple Daily and Next Magazine, Next Film is headed by Jevons Au, one of the co-directors of “Ten Years” and crime thriller “Trivisa,” both of which won best picture prizes at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Ng Ka-leung, a producer and director of “Ten Years,” and Thomas Ng, who co-wrote the script of “Trivisa,” serve as producer for Next Film.
“Ten Years” was an ultra-low-budget anthology film in which five filmmakers were asked to imagine what life in Hong Kong would be like a decade into the future. Some of their predictions came true during the 2014 Occupy Central protest movement, and required their scripts to be updated.
This year, Hong Kong has endured five months of increasingly desperate disputes between pro-democracy forces and a city government that appears increasingly to be under the direct control of Beijing authorities. Both sides accuse the other of damaging the rule of law and upending the so-called “one country, two systems” arrangement that has operated since 1997, when Hong Kong ceased to be a British colony.
Next Film currently features more than 100 Chinese-language short films, including “Extradition Bill Trilogy,” a documentary about the now-withdrawn extradition bill that sparked the protests, and “Fight for Freedom: White Nights,” a documentary series telling the stories of individuals involved in the protests. Non-political content “Dance Pride,” a documentary short, and comedy “Suprenergic Office” are also available.
Content is free to registered members and operations are supported by advertising. Au declined to reveal the amount of initial investment.
Au said that Jimmy Lai and his Next group stepped in after it became clear that most media industry investors in Hong Kong have shied away from controversial topics. And Hong Kong cinemas will not show controversial films.
“Self-censorship has worsened,” Au told Variety. “But [with Next Film] now I have freedom from fear.”