An award-winning documentary about the siege of Polytechnic University was pulled hours before its first commercial screening tonight after days of criticism from a pro-Beijing's newspaper.
"Inside the Red Brick Wall", which documents a violent standoff between police and protesters on a university campus in 2019, was due to debut in Golden Scene Cinema in Kennedy Town this evening.
But the Hong Kong Film Critics Society said it was canceling the screening.
The sudden announcement illustrates the fear caused by a sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong last year, stifling street protests but also filtering down into the city's once vibrant arts scene.
Wen Wei Po ran multiple articles condemning the screening and accusing organizers of breaching the security law.
"The movie incited resistance against the police and the Hong Kong government and spread hatred against our country," the paper said in one editorial.
The Hong Kong Film Critics Society blamed "excessive attention the screenings recently got" adding it would also pull a second showing which had been added because of public demand for tickets.
Enoch Tam, a film critic who had been invited to give a post-screening talk, took to Facebook
to say that Hong Kong's commercial cinemas have increasingly avoided political films in recent years.
"The situation worsened under the national security law," he wrote.
The 88-minute documentary, produced in 2020 by a group of anonymous Hong Kong filmmakers, won the best editing award from the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), Europe's largest documentary film festival.
It was named after the signature red brick walls of Hong Kong's Polytechnic University, where thousands of pro-democracy protests were besieged by armed riot police for two weeks in November 2019.
Over 1,300 protesters were arrested during the standoff.
The movie also won the annual grand prize from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society and was therefore included in the commercial screenings of all winning projects.