TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Hong Kong is set to expand its film censorship regulations with an amendment that will allow the government to retroactively ban old films, according to reports.
Under a proposed amendment to the Film Censorship Ordinance on Tuesday, August 25, unauthorized showing of retroactively banned films will be punishable by a fine of HK $ 1 million (US $ 128,000) and a maximum sentence of three years in prison. The authorities will have the power to search cinemas and other screening venues at will, and the licenses of offenders may be revoked.
The amendment will have its first and second readings in the city’s Legislative Council next week. He should pass, as almost all dissenting voices have already been removed from the body.
Targeting content deemed a threat to national security, the amendment seeks to bring the city’s once famous film industry into retroactive compliance with Beijing’s Hong Kong National Security Act, which criminalizes expressions deemed subversive, secessionist or tolerant of terrorism, in addition to prohibiting “collusion with foreign or external forces.
The Territory announced in June that the films would need censor approval before release, but the new amendment seeks to apply the same principle to the back-catalog.
“Any film intended for public display, past, present and future will need to get approval,” said Edward Yau (邱騰華), the city’s commerce secretary, according to The Guardian.
Decisions to ban films on national security grounds will be difficult to appeal, with the process redirected through judicial reviews, which is a long and expensive road, according to the English newspaper.
Independent director Vincent Tsui told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that he will continue to make films as he pleases.
“Shooting the movies shouldn’t be a problem,” he said. “If they won’t let me show it, so be it; it’s on them.
Tin Kai-man (田啟文), actor and spokesperson for the Hong Kong Federation of Filmmakers, told RFA he was concerned about the vagueness of the wording surrounding the term “national security”.
“Will criticizing the government now be considered a violation of national security law?” ” He asked. “We need to be clear whether we are allowed to criticize the government now or not. “