It may not look like much but the corner building
used to house a museum I'd visit annually
I used to make a point to visit the June 4th Museum (that commemorated the Tiananmen Square Massacre) around this time of the year. My most recent visit there, on June 1st, 2021, coincided with a number of Food and Health Department Services also paying a visit to the premises. As a result of their visit, the museum closed down -- and no longer exists.
For a number of years, it also was a tradition of sorts for me to attend the Candlelight Vigil at Victoria Park on June 4th. Again, that option no longer exists for me; with the authorities having closed the whole park -- Hong Kong Island's largest urban park -- on June 4th last year and in 2021 to the public. (So people couldn't just not assemble to remember and mourn on the football courts, as had been the case for 30 years, but also avail themselves of other park facilities including tennis courts and children's playgrounds.)
In 2020, 2021 and 2022, the pandemic was the reason/pretext given for banning large public gatherings like the June 4th candlelight vigil. But despite the pandemic no longer being considered to be at an "Emergency" level, there will once again be no candlelight vigil at Victoria Park on June 4th this year; this not least because the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, its organizing body, no longer exists and a number of its key members, including Chow Hang-tung and Lee Cheuk-yan, are currently behind bars.
So Hong Kongers are having to come up with other ways to comemmorate June 4th this year; with many determined to do so despite the authorities very clearly trying to extend the borders of the People's Republic of Amnesia to include Hong Kong. In addition to the removal of books about the Tiananmen Square Massacre from public libraries, a number of incredibly petty moves have been undertaken in recent days.
This includes the harassment of establishments such as a store in Sai Kung run by former pro-democracy District Councillor Debby Chan after she announced on Facebook that her shop will give away free candles to commemorate June 4th and the Hunter Bookstore operated by another former pro-democracy District Councillor, Leticia Wong, after she made known that she had trilingual scripts of May 35th, a play about June 4th, in stock by the police and representatives of such as the fire services and the housing department. (As has been seen with the June 4th Museum and also a number of "yellow" restaurants and bars, the shops get accused -- often with no basis -- of violating minor regulations. For example, Debby Chan's store was visited by the police who were there ostensibly to check if it was selling alcohol to underaged customers!)
Then there's the farcical case of a cinema having been "advised by industry representatives" to cancel three private screenings of a film that has nothing to do with the Tiananmen Square Massacre because those screenings were scheduled for June 4th. As it so happens, the private screenings had been organised by AsOne, an online shopping platform and store founded by yet another former pro-democracy District Councillor -- in this case, Derek Chu -- who told Hong Kong Free Press that "It was scheduled on Sunday simply because the directors (who were going to do a post-screening Q&A) are not available on weekdays. But I think it’s the date that was targeted, not the movie".
For the record: the film in question is To Be Continued, a local documentary about an iconic North Point entertainment landmark and its founder, legendary impressario Harry Odell, which had its world premiere in April at the Hong Kong International Film Festival. And having been one of the people who saw it at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, I can personally attest to it not being about the Tiananmen Square Massacre (unlike, say, The Gate of Heavenly Peace, which I viewed not so many years ago -- but which can now seem like another life time now -- at the Hong Kong Arts Centre, and is available to be viewed on Youtube)!
In any case, Dora Choi, one of To Be Continued's co-directors (along with Haider Kikhaboy), has confirmed that all three screenings of her film scheduled for this Sunday have been cancelled. "It’s a great pity that To Be Continued cannot be screened on June 4 (Sunday). Since the film was screened in April, weekends have always been a peak time for audiences. Also, the two directors are only available to meet the audience on weekends", she told the Hong Kong Free Press.
More than by the way, this is not the first time that the Golden Scene Cinema has felt obliged to cancel screenings of films as it was the cinema where screenings of Inside the Red Brick Wall, the award-winning documentary about the PolyU siege, had been scheduled to take place back in March 2021. And I must admit to wondering if the Golden Scene Cinema folks are feeling particularly targeted by the powers that be and thus feel a greater need to be more careful than most because the cinema and its parent organisation is considered to be part of the Yellow Economic Circle.
Seeing how To Be Continued was my favourite of the films I viewed at the 2023 Hong Kong International Film Festival, I do hope that people will have more chances to view it (and take the opportunity to go do so). I've just checked the Golden Scene Cinema website and see that there are other screenings scheduled for it: on June 9th, 11th, 12th, 16th, 18th and 19th. Seeing as they all appear to already be sold out, I hope that more screenings will be added -- though I guess public as well as private screenings will not be taking place on June 4th.
Over on Twitter, HK Hemlock (of the Big Lychee, Various Sectors blog) has jokingly asked: "Why not shut all all cinemas on June 4? Indeed, why not close everything on that 'sensitive' day? They could call it a Number 64 Signal." Thank goodness for small mercies that Hong Kong cinemas will, in fact, stay open on June 4th. And, if one were to look at the offerings, one might even see films playing on the day in which resistance and rebellion are depicted as positive, admirable actions too!