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Hong Kong director Kiwi Chow ‘disappointed’ after screenings canceled

Hong Kong’s MCL Cinemas canceled two special screenings of a film directed by Kiwi Chow, who was also the director of a protest documentary in 2019, without giving a reason.

A film taken from "Beyond the dream." Photo: Beyond The Dream Facebook page.
A still from the film “Beyond The Dream”. Photo: Beyond The Dream Facebook page.

The theater chain announced Tuesday afternoon that next month’s special programming featuring two screenings of Beyond the dreamwhich was first shown publicly in 2020, had been canceled.

According to the cancellation notice on MCL’s Facebook page, the screenings were scheduled to take place on June 15 and 28 at the Tsim Sha Tsui mall cinema branch, The One. The theater did not give a reason for the cancellation.

Directed by Chow, the film revolves around an elementary school teacher recovering from schizophrenia and his romantic encounters with a young woman. It enjoyed box office success in Hong Kong and won Best Adapted Screenplay at the 57th Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan.

Chow told HKFP on Wednesday that he learned of the screenings through the film’s distributor. Beyond the dream last Friday, a day before MCL’s promotional work began. He shared the cinema’s post on his Facebook account, but some of his friends noticed that his name was not on the advertising material.

Hong Kong director Kiwi Chow shared a message from MCL Cinemas about the screening of "Beyond the dream" on May 24, 2024. The publication is now unavailable.  Photo: Facebook screenshot of Kiwi Chow. Hong Kong director Kiwi Chow shared a message from MCL Cinemas about the screening of "Beyond the dream" on May 24, 2024. The publication is now unavailable.  Photo: Facebook screenshot of Kiwi Chow.
Hong Kong director Kiwi Chow shared a message from MCL Cinemas about the screening of “Beyond The Dream” on May 24, 2024. The message is now unavailable. Photo: Facebook screenshot of Kiwi Chow.

The director said some people said on social media that the webpage to buy tickets for the screenings was not working late Monday. Chow later got confirmation from the distributor that MCL had dropped the screenings, but no reason was provided.

Chow told HKFP that he had become “used to” cancellations after many public events were canceled following his documentary on the unrest over the 2019 extradition bill, Revolution of our time, has been freed. But he didn’t expect MCL to abandon these screenings as the cinema chain did not invite him to join the event.

“Of course I’m disappointed. On the one hand, I really wanted the film to have a chance to meet audiences again,” Chow said by phone in Cantonese on Wednesday.

Kiwi foodKiwi food
Kiwi food. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

“On the other hand, I was disappointed at how absurd it was. Behind this absurdity is of course what we can call a culture of self-censorship and cancellation in society,” he continued.

Protest documentary

Described by Chow as an “emotional outlet” for Hong Kongers, Revolution of our time premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021, before winning Best Documentary at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards in November of the same year. The film was never officially screened in Hong Kong.

On Wednesday morning, an HKFP reporter posing as a customer asked at the MCL box office why the screenings had been canceled; the staff said they weren’t sure.

HKFP has contacted MCL for comment.

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