- “Expats” series airs globally, excluded from Hong Kong
- Nicole Kidman’s 2021 filming controversy
- Hong Kong’s complex political backdrop
This programme, which examines the lives of expatriates in Hong Kong, has been broadcast worldwide; hexceptninole Kidman stars in the Amazon Prime series Expats, which follows the lives of three American women.
It is set in 2014 and contains images from the “Umbrella Movement,” a citywide demonstration that demanded free elections in the city.
It is still being determined whether Amazon Prime Video or Hong Kong’s authorities made the decision not to air the series.
This controversy has previously surrounded the programme.
Upon her arrival in Hong Kong in 2021 to film Expats, Australian actress Nicole Kidman was rumoured to have been granted preferential treatment to circumvent the city’s stringent COVID-19 regulations.
Reportedly, she was observed approximately two days after she arrived in the country, which infuriated locals who, upon their return from abroad, were required to endure extensive quarantine periods; some were even forced to remain in temporary quarantine camps.
At the time, local authorities declared that the restrictions had been lifted so the group could “perform designated professional work.”
Although the show has mainly garnered favourable evaluations from critics, social media users in Hong Kong needed clarification, highlighting the discrepancy between its reception and its subsequent inability to air it.
An Instagram user stated that the government merits this characterisation because it permitted these celebrities to enter the city (without quarantine) during COVID restrictions. At the same time, locals were required to pay for a three-week hotel stay if they returned from abroad.
“Filmed in Hong Kong… but not available for viewing in Hong Kong… the global metropolis,” remarked another user with a crying giggle emoji.
“At this time, unavailable”
The first two episodes of the six-part limited series, which is directed by Lulu Wang and is based on the best-selling novel The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee, debuted on Friday.
The narrative centres on how the lives of three women converge following a family tragedy; however, it also incorporates excerpts from the umbrella movement; the initial episode showcases protestors shouting “I want universal suffrage” in Cantonese for a brief moment. In addition, the show’s trailer featured iconic images of protestors carrying umbrellas throughout the demonstrations.
Amazon’s website lists the show as available worldwide, but Hong Kong users get a “currently unavailable” warning.
Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997 when China reclaimed it.
Hong Kong saw protests opposing proposals to extradite criminal defendants to mainland China under certain situations in 2019. As the tensions escalated between activists and law enforcement, police retaliated with live ammunition while demonstrators assaulted officers and hurled petrol bombs.
Beijing enacted the comprehensive national security law, which imposes severe penalties (up to life in prison) for offences such as sedition and subversion, following months of pro-democracy demonstrations.
Hong Kong also enacted a law in 2021 prohibiting films that violate China’s national security interests. However, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of Hong Kong was quoted by AFP. They stated that the city’s film censorship laws do not extend to streaming services.
Lulu Wang, a filmmaker, stated that the production crew approached the political scenes of the programme with caution. We filmed most of the political content in Los Angeles, which is unquestionably difficult. Wang states that there are numerous inquiries, such as “Can you demonstrate this?” and “What can you not demonstrate?” She said, “We worked with legal teams to guide us, as you also have to do it responsibly, and there are so many Hong Kong-based individuals working on it.”
However, I needed to depict this specific moment in Hong Kong this year authentically.