Ten Years

an exercise in negative identity in Hong Kong

Kevin Carrico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In late 2015 and early 2016, a low-budget independent film entitled Ten Years unexpectedly topped box office sales and provoked widespread discussion in Hong Kong. The film is composed of five fictional narratives from Hong Kong in 2025: false flag violence to force the passage of a national security law; a grocery owner harassed by Red Guard-like youth for using the banned term ‘local’ to describe his locally produced eggs; a taxi driver ostracized for his inability to speak the ‘national language’; and a self-immolator sacrificing herself in front of the British Embassy. These five distinct narratives coalesce around a common theme of anxiety about the political, cultural and social future of Hong Kong within the People’s Republic of China (PRC). How did these fictional scenarios come to dominate discussion on Hong Kong’s future in 2016? The symbols featured in Ten Years are not in any sense arbitrary: importantly, the blending of symbols from the two political spaces of Hong Kong and Mainland China in Ten Years enacts a shattering of the long-standing imaginarily immunizing political borders between the two spaces, thereby dramatically enacting the primary source of anxiety in Hong Kong politics and identity today: the idea of Hong Kong as just another PRC city. Yet beyond simply labelling China as an other and denouncing its colonization of Hong Kong, Ten Years engages in a sophisticated portrayal of identity politics that acknowledges the potential for anyone to participate in the ‘Mainlandization’ of Hong Kong, while attempting to avoid this outcome in its acknowledgement. In this sense, Ten Years presents an anti-essentialist and optimistically anti-teleological dystopia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-22
Number of pages20
JournalAsian cinema
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • Hong Kong
  • China
  • Ten Years
  • identity
  • localism
  • colonization
  • one country, two systems

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