Ten Years

Five thought-provoking shorts imagine what Hong Kong will be like ten years from now. In Extras, two genial low-level gangsters are hired to stage an attack, but they’re mere sacrificial lambs in a political conspiracy. Rebels strive to preserve destroyed homes and objects as specimens in the mesmerizing Season of the End. In Dialect, a taxi driver struggles to adjust after Putonghua displaces Cantonese as Hong Kong’s only official language. Following the death of a leading independence activist, an act of self-immolation outside the British consulate triggers questions and protests in the searing yet moving Self-Immolator. In Local Egg, a grocery shop owner worries about his son’s youth guard activities and where to buy eggs after Hong Kong’s last chicken farm closes down.

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  • ★★★½ review by Sean Gilman on Letterboxd

    43512, I guess. But none of them are all that exceptional. There's a stately sheen to the protest, slick, direct, simple. None of the hyperbolic excess and purity of anger you find the New Wave protest films. Those films are the expression of a generation's scattershot anxieties, political and personal, fire and blood. The films in Ten Years are calculated, rhetorical. The great fear is the death of language, and with it thought, as a result of official edict or, more spookily, the machinations of myriad equally plausible conspiracy theories. One way to counter that is to speak plainly of your cause, and there's no doubt that this anthology accomplishes that goal and has been effective, given the response both in Hong Kong and from the shadows of the PRC. Another approach would be the primal screams of a Dangerous Encounters - First Kind (or more contemporary example, The Midnight After). But the New Wave couldn't stop the Joint Declaration, maybe these Umbrella Generation directors will have more luck.

  • ★★★★ review by Wilson on Letterboxd

    Growing up in Hong Kong as a half Hong Kong-nese, half Filipino kid who's first language is English, I never felt connected to the idea of a local Hong Kong identity and its importance. However, as I neared the end of my high school education and as the Umbrella Movement started to pick up steam, I began to realize how important Hong Kong was to my identity, even if I was not in the same situation of many local Hong Kong people.

    Ten Years is a collection of 5 short film directed by young, up and coming directors that depict different aspects and ideas of what a Hong Kong in 2025 would be. The shorts all deal with ideas of PRC’s encroachment on traditional Hong Kong values and ideals. The film was a big commercial success in Hong Kong and was banned in China.

    While Ten Years is by far not a perfect film, its an important film. It’s a big reminder, especially to a student abroad like me, that Hong Kong issues need to be paid attention to. Imagining a future of a place so uncertain of its own future is tough, and in my opinion a couple of the shorts (the first two), failed in holding interest. However, the 3 shorts that closed out Ten Years were extremely interesting and well thought out. It may seem preachy and propaganda like at times, Ten Years is something that I haven’t seen in a long time from Hong Kong cinema. These directors made films that are reflective of important, current, Hong Kong issues. I hope that this will give rise to a new wave of Hong Kong films, especially at a critical time in Hong Kong history.

  • ★★★★ review by Wilson on Letterboxd

    Ten Years is a 2015 Hong Kong dystopian speculative fiction anthology. It is overtly political, quietly angry and impressively confrontational. It doesn't think much of the Chinese Communist party and its control of Hong Kong. It worries and gnaws at themes, presenting a fearful extrapolation of today's issues. Like great speculative fiction it is less about the world it creates and more about the world of today.

    Hong Kong, of 10 Years, is worried about its language, immigrants, terrorism, security legislation, private property, and political freedom. It is a scattershot of concerns, but each of them hit, in their own way.

    The film is five short films, roughly from 15 minutes to 25 minutes long. I found the most affecting stories to be about the Cantonese speaking taxi driver struggling to adapt to Mandarin speaking laws. It is relatable and human, with a pinch of black comedy to the ending. While, undoubtedly, the most impressive short is 'Self-Immolator'.

    Self-immolator is a wide-ranging, almost faux documentary, look at the Hong Kong independence movement. It alludes to the umbrella movement, it has hunger strikes and self-immolations. It taps the struggle for Hong Kong independence to the tactics of many others seeking the same freedoms. It is impressive and angry and cinematic. Its politics are sledge-hammer straight-forward, but it has energy and sadness to it.

    The other shorts are fine and well-made, but not quite as striking as the two best. They are a little more esoteric. They are refined and well-judged and none of the stories are poorly done. Season of the End is particularly artistic, almost Shane Carruth in its level of narrative abstraction.

    Ten Years is really interesting political film. Bold, within its budgetary constraints, challenging and intelligent. Like a collection of JG Ballard short stories, with the same cool, clinical rage.

    Well-worth seeking out.

  • ★★★★ review by Derick Bennett on Letterboxd

    43521 (though none were particularly bad, I don't get the hate for 2 either)

    Watched for essay research and was pleasantly surprised at how impressive the anthology was as a whole, important messages being delivered through the medium of film, a timely reminder of the power of artistic protest.

    Also excellent material for essays, obviously.

  • ★★★★ review by James Marsh on Letterboxd

    Rarely has Hong Kong politics been addressed as overtly as in Ten Years, a speculative science fiction anthology from a quintet of the city’s most promising young directors. Depicting a dystopian future a decade from now, five vignettes reveal the anxieties, fears and inevitable truths of mainland China’s strengthening grip on the former British colony.

    You can read my full review here: www.screendaily.com/reviews/ten-years-review/5101194.article

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