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Hong Kong Censors Issue Warning Over Tiananmen Film Screenings

Hong Kong skyline
Courtesy of Celestial Tiger Entertainment

Hong Kong film censors issued a warning to the city’s hospital workers union on Thursday evening over the screening two films related to the 1989 June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

“I Have Graduated” is a 1992 documentary about the last batch of university students who experienced the 1989 Beijing protests, and was produced by a collective of filmmakers known as SWYC. “Conjugation” is a 2001 fictional feature revolving around the challenges faced by a young couple in the post-Tiananmen era, directed by Emily Tang. The film was banned in mainland China.Neither film has a rating in Hong Kong.

Discussion of Tiananmen is effectively prohibited in mainland China, and as Hong Kong comes increasingly to resemble the People’s Republic it is becoming less clear whether Tiananmen has also now become taboo in the Special Administrative Region.

Hong Kongers have in the past had lively discussions of the subject and held large, annual memorial events in public parks. The National Security Law, introduced on June 30 last year may have changed that.

This week, the Hong Kong Police banned a planned Tiananmen vigil in a public park for the second year in a row. Public health grounds were cited for the ban.

A letter from the Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration (OFNAA), posted on the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance’s Facebook, wrote that that the union has screened “I Have Graduated” to its members at the union’s premises on May 22, but the film was not rated by the film censors.

All films shown in Hong Kong must be submitted to local film censors and be approved by the censorship board before they can be screened, OFNAA said in the letter. That includes public places and member-only venues.

OFNAA also questioned if the union has sought approval from the censors over the screening of “Conjugation” on Saturday. It warned that a letter of approval must be shown at the screening venue, and said that any violation would lead to a penalty of HK$10,000 ($1,290).

The union said that officers from OFNAA also paid a visit to the union’s premises on Thursday evening without prior notice. Representatives of the union questioned whether the move was related to political suppression. OFNAA told Radio Television Hong Kong that officers visited the union’s office for inspection after receiving an enquiry about the legality of the screenings from members of the public.

For the past two days Hong Kong has reported no new coronavirus cases, either from local sources or from imported ones. The past 14 days have seen just five local cases and 15 imported cases.