After months of anticipation, the (in)famous 2015 Hong Kong best film, Ten Years finally made its way to NYC in its North American premiere featured by the NY Asian Film Festival last night. Despite the fact that the film was conveniently dropped by the Hong Kong government in its press release about NYAFF, the sold-out New York crowd gave it an enthusiastic welcome last night. Audiences on stand-by were allowed to join without chairs, who filled the space surrounding the seats in the Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater. All five directors who came for the premiere chose to watch the film with the New Yorkers in the theater rather than the Independence Day's fireworks over the East River. Coincidentally, one of the five stories was about people's fight for independence of Hong Kong. I definitely saw indoor fireworks without regrets.
Ten Years is added to the list of Hong Kong productions that I watched in the last few years. The short list also includes Ann Hui's A Simple Life and Ip Man 3. The three completely different and yet well regarded films share a common theme, ordinary people's struggle in times of change: in the colonial period (Ip Man 3), the present (A Simple Life) and the future (Ten Years). While Ten Years is categorized as a drama, the five short stories that made up the movie are more like thrillers orchestrated nicely together to paint a picture of the bleak future of one of the greatest cities.
The overwhelming reception from the audience turned this award winning HK$500k (US$64k) production into a HK$6 million (US$770k) box office hit among less than a handful of cinemas that dared to show it in Hong Kong. The figure does not include the ongoing community screenings (well attended events), three dozens and counting.
Ten Years is indeed thought-provoking for Hongkongers and beyond. With various actual events happened in the last six months in Hong Kong, including the Causeway Bay booksellers, etc., the harsh reality may have arrived much earlier than 2025 predicted by the film. Some said that the success of Ten Years is a wake-up call for some people of Hong Kong and its government. I consider it a roar of the unheard in a city without democracy.