Screening of films considered a security threat is punishable by a maximum of three years in prison.
Hong Kong begins investigating old films for breaches of national security under the new Censorship Act, says British newspaper The Guardian. This is the latest blow to the city’s political and artistic freedoms.
Authorities announced in June that the Censorship Board would begin reviewing the content of new films for violations of the Security Act. On Tuesday, authorities unveiled a new, tougher censorship law that would also cover all films that had previously received green light.
“All past, present and future films intended for public distribution must be approved,” said the Hong Kong Edward Yau said the BBC.
Authorities have taken large-scale action to eradicate Chinese critics after pro-democracy protests shook the city two years ago. Set by China security law has since criminalized disagreements and suppressed the democracy movement.
The Security Act prohibits anything that the authorities see as an attempt to secede from the central government, as an anti-state act, as terrorism, or as cooperation with foreign states that endangers national security.
Almost all those detained under the law have been democracy activists.
Hong Kong the new censorship law has yet to be adopted by the legislature. However, support is almost certain, as gravel noises have been curtailed among legislators over the past year.
The maximum penalty for showing illegal films can be three years in prison and a fine of one million Hong Kong dollars (nearly 112,000 euros).
Films considered a security risk may not be shown through standard channels. In order to screen a banned film, a legal assessment must be initiated in the Hong Kong courts, which is a long and expensive legal procedure.
Law brings Hong Kong ever closer to mainland China, where films are carefully scrutinized and only a handful of Western films and documentaries get into commercial performance each year.
The film industry has flourished in Hong Kong in the past, and as late as the second half of the last century, Cantonese films were world-class.
The announcement of the new censorship law came at the same time as the actor Nicole Kidman is in town filming his new TV series. Authorities allowed Kidman and his crew to bypass the corona quarantine, which sparked criticism last week.