But if you want to see the independent production Ten Years the only places are private showings advertised through Facebook.
As Beijing steps up its crackdown on political dissent, the film’s disappearance has left some moviegoers scratching their heads and wondering whether the long hand of the mainland authorities may be responsible.
The timing of attacks from the mainland and the content of Ten Years appears to bear this out.
The film is a dystopian narrative composed of five short stories in which Hong Kong has been totally taken over by China to the point that neither the language, Cantonese, nor local agricultural products can be freely used.
The film first hit the screens at a local film festival in November before getting a wider release the following month.
But general release ended in January – when it was still playing to full houses.
That move coincided with a forthright attack China’s Global Times – the mainland mouthpiece of the Communist party – labelling the film “absurd”, “too pessimistic” and a “virus of the mind”.
A more overt censorship has since appeared with the decision by China that for the first time since 1991 mainland audiences will not be able to watch a live broadcast of the Hong Kong Film Awards nor of the Taiwan Golden Lion Film Awards – Asia’s answers to the Oscars. The website portal QQ.com has followed suit, and it will not cover the Awards. Ten Years has been nominated as one of the films of the year in both awards.
Shu Kei, a film critic and professor at Hong Kong’s Academy for Performing Arts says China’s reaction is a mistake.
“I think it is stupid, of course, for China to cancel the broadcasts. But this is always their reaction when they do not want people to know more about something.
“This is a very important film. The first in decades that tackles the reality in Hong Kong,” he says.
Made on a shoestring – it cost just 600,000 HK dollars (£55,000) to make – it has made profits at every screening.
“It has already made more than 6m HK dollars (£550,000),” says Andrew Choi, one of the producers, “and it is still playing to packed audiences every time.”
Broadway Circuit, Hong Kong’s main theatre chain with many outlets in mainland China too, was asked for comment but did not return calls about why it had stopped showing a lucrative film.
According to Choi they pulled it “they had too many other films to show”. But Ten Years was grossing more than Star Wars at one of its outlets, Broadway Cinematheque, when its run ended.
“I have never heard anywhere else that a film that sells full houses at every single screening is pulled out from the theatres, but no exhibitor will admit to censorship or direct pressure from China,” says Shu Kei.
None of this has deterred its fans. The film has since been showing at private screening at universities and other rented venues. It is advertised through a Facebook page, and still gets daily full houses.
“We actually prefer it this way, as this gives us a chance to talk with our audience afterwards,” says Chow Kwun-wai, one of the directors.
At one such screening at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, filled to capacity, a worried spectator asked what could be done to “save Hong Kong” from its rapid deterioration and loss of identity.
“It is true that things in Hong Kong are happening faster than in our film,” says Chow.
The film captures the angst about the future felt by many in Hong Kong and it strikes a chord with the audience.
Outside the theatre, Ramsy, a 16-year-old student, says that seeing Ten Years made him think that “we must take action ... Some of the worst predictions [for Hong Kong] have already taken place, I have no confidence in China right now. And even the UK cannot help us anymore: nobody wants to stand up to China”.
Since the film was first screened, five booksellers of volumes critical of the Chinese authorities have disappeared from Hong Kong, and police have fired live rounds in the air during night clashes between protesters and security forces over Chinese New year.
“A lot of people tell us: we do not need to wait ten years. All this is already happening”, said Ng Ka-leung, one of the directors. “We need more wisdom and courage to face the future, to face the ridiculous situation in which Hong Kong finds itself in right now.
“Our film is not a prediction: it is about the need to face the future together, when evil seems to prevail we must not lose hope.”
Author: Ilaria Maria Sala