Ten Years is made up of five short dystopian films by young Hong Kong directors. Each of the short films, set in 2025, work around issues within the society, such as language barriers between Mandarin and Cantonese, the triad organisation, the Communist party, and oppression of speech in everyday life. Each film is different in tone, and it feels as if the films are ordered so that they become increasingly intense as the film goes on.
Ten Years is a challenging but ultimately fascinating viewing experience. By using five different directors, the film covers a variety of Hong Kong’s cultural and social issues well, giving viewers some diverse artistic interpretations of the former nation, and what social and political issues drive its artistic community. The films are all beautifully shot, docudrama Self Immolator in particular – despite some questionable acting skills – taking time to capture the physical as well as political landscape of Hong Kong.
However, it also feels as if this is a film for the people of Hong Kong, as opposed to one that is internationally understandable without contextual reading to help viewers understand the gravity of certain situations. Short expositional intertitles are placed at the start of some films, such as the beginning of Self Immolator – but to truly understand the situation that led to so much protest and unrest would need more than a 30-second crash-course in Chinese politics.
Ten Years is an intelligent piece of cinema that, although an achievement in presenting a culture with complex problems on film, may also be seen as inaccessible because of its sheer specificity. It may not be something that is easy to appreciate immediately, but it is easy to see why the film has been awarded Best Film at the 35th Hong Kong Film Awards.
CAST: Liu Kai-chi, Tanzela Qoser, Courtney Wu, Lau Ho-Chi, Kin-Ping Leung, Siu Hin Ng, Ching Wong, Peter Chan
DIRECTORS: Ng Ka-Leung, Jevons Au, Kwun-wai Chow, Kwok Zune, Wong Fei-Pang
SYNOPSIS: A collection of five short stories. Through their films, five of Hong Kong’s young directors are raising questions about the most central issues concerning the city.