Prominent movie director Mabel Cheung has called on the government to clarify what would be banned under the proposed film censorship law, even though she said she doesn’t think anyone in Hong Kong would intentionally make films to threaten national security.
Cheung, who directed well-known films including the Autumn’s Tale and City of Glass, made the comments a day after the government proposed the Film Censorship (Amendment) Bill which targets movies deemed to be supporting or glorifying acts that could endanger national security.
“The trade has a lot of questions. We have had meetings with officials, mainly to ask them what's allowed and what's not…. But the government hasn’t been able to give any concrete answer,” she told an RTHK programme on Wednesday.
Cheung also expressed worries over the proposal that filmmakers could only challenge a ban by filing a judicial review in court, rather than going to an appeal board.
“Now, if it involves national security, the Chief Secretary could ban the movie. The appeal committee will not handle it. They say you can file a judicial review, but the process with a judicial review is long and indefinite… and the movie will definitely miss the screening schedule. It will be waiting indefinitely,” Cheung said.
But Cheung added she doesn’t think any filmmakers would deliberately do things to threaten national security.
“Most of us just want to make movies to entertain people, express our beliefs or make movies that move us personally… Directors should be brave, we should stand firm and make movies for things that are worth it. Although there may be a lot of uncertainties, if you don’t keep walking how would you find out whether there’s a way? How could you censor yourself? I think we should be brave and stride ahead,” she said.
Meanwhile, lawmaker for the Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication sector, Ma Fung-kwok, brushed aside worries that the proposed law will stifle freedom of expression, saying it will instead provide a clear guideline to better protect filmmakers.
He said if censors think there are problems with a film, producers can always try to edit out words, lines or scenes to make sure nothing is contrary to national security.