August 25 (UPI) – Hong Kong lawmakers have unveiled a new censorship law that aims to ban films – those from the future and those from the past – that are considered subversive or a threat to state security.
Lawmakers introduced the film censorship ordinance on Tuesday. Films are prohibited by law if they have subversive themes or glorify dissent.
The law is retroactive, which means government officials will review past films to determine if they comply with the law. Violators face up to three years in prison and a fine of $ 1 million.
In addition, the banned films could no longer be sold on the market or shown in theaters.
The proposal also allows authorities to enter and search for film screening locations and to investigate screenings.
The Hong Kong Legislative Council still has to approve the proposal for it to become law, but experts say it is almost certain it will pass.
The new statute is the latest move by Chinese territory to quell dissent and deter protests under Beijing’s National Security Law. Mass protests two years ago led to a host of changes in Hong Kong under the security law to deter the opposition.
The film industry and moviegoers have expressed concern over the proposal, fearing that it means popular films may be excluded from public screenings.
Hong Kong Filmmakers Federation spokesperson Tin Kai-man told the Hong Kong Free Press that the law clarifies guidelines and encourages a sense of vigilance in the industry. He said it would fill a loophole that does not impose an expiration date for cinema-related licenses.
“We are very concerned,” Federation President Tenky Tin told Variety. “Our biggest concern is whether we would break the law.”
“We have had meetings with officials, mainly to ask them what is allowed and what is not,” Hong Kong filmmaker Mabel Cheung said, according to Variety.
“But the government has not been able to give a concrete answer.”