So-called documentary on black-clad riot at HK campus pulled hours before screening
Published: Mar 16, 2021 11:08 PM
A rioter sets fire and destroys public facilities outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in south China's Hong Kong, Nov. 17, 2019. Photo:Xinhua

A rioter sets fire and destroys public facilities outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in south China's Hong Kong, Nov. 17, 2019. Photo:Xinhua

The screening of a self-proclaimed documentary covering the black-clad riot at a campus in Hong Kong in 2019 was pulled from a local cinema on Monday, three hours ahead of its scheduled showing. Observers said that the film should not have been approved for screening as it glorifies violence and stokes up hatred.

Inside the Red Brick Wall was scheduled to be screened on Monday evening in the Golden Scene cinema in Kennedy Town, Hong Kong. Golden Scene announced on Facebook on Monday that, as the film had drawn "excessive attention" in the past few days, the screenings would be cancelled to avoid any "unnecessary misunderstanding."

The Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration of Hong Kong (OFNAA), which rated the film as a Category III adults-only film, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the screening of the film is decided by the cinema itself, in response to questions about the reason for the cancellation.

The OFNAA told the Global Times that it rated the film based on the regulations of Hong Kong.

As of press time, Golden Scene had not responded to questions on the cancellation. 

Hong Kong Film Critics Society, which gave the film one of its Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards, also announced the cancellation on Facebook on Monday. A staff member of the Hong Kong Film Critics Society told the Global Times that it had no comment on the cancellation.

During the anti-extradition bill protests in Hong Kong in 2019, a large number of rioters occupied the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, vandalizing the campus.

The film, however, reportedly tells the story from the perspective of the mob, claiming that the camera "captures a campus shrouded in darkness and horror." 

Reports said that the film contains slogans and banners for "Hong Kong Independence."

After watching the film, Jacky Ko Chung-kit, a Hong Kong key opinion leader who used to work in the OFNAA, said that he did not see the film as a documentary, since documentaries usually restore and uncover events and tell the truth.

"Most of its contents focus on the scenes of police enforcement with a lack of objectivity, and it lacks scenes of rioters' violent behavior, so the facts shown in the film are not integrated," he said.

Ko said that he expressed objection to the release on YouTube and via email when news of the release was first announced in 2020. "But ignoring our objection, they insisted on releasing the movie in the cinema," Ko said, adding that if the OFNAA staff discovered problems in movies, they should instantly report these to the administration for assessment.

Many netizens condemned the film for distorting black and white and blatantly inciting violence with an intention to rake in money, and they demanded it be banned from screening.

The Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po newspaper said in a report recently that the film, "full of violence, crime, disgusting words and actions," is stoking up hatred against the police and the Hong Kong government, and is under suspicion of infringing the national security law and the film review ordinance of the city. 

Some netizens accused the distributor of eating "blood-soaked buns," taking advantage of the school's misfortune. Some also warned that the film playing up violence and illegal acts would have a great negative impact on young people.

Inside the Red Brick Wall was first screened in a local arts center in May 2020. 

In September 2020, the film was classified as a Category III adults-only film by the OFNAA, which requires its distributor to add a warning to the film that the behaviors it recorded "may constitute criminal offenses," and some of the content or comments may be "unsubstantiated or misleading," local media outlet reported. 

The film's distributor Ying E Chi was found to have released a number of anti-government films over the years and its background team members have participated in multiple anti-government protests.