Controversial documentary pulled from HK Film Awards race; Ying Wa Girls’ School approached by privacy watchdog

Ying Wa Girls’ School said on Thursday that they decided to withdraw the controversial documentary, To My Nineteen Year Old Self, from the running in Hong Kong Film Awards’ Best Film category after Hong Kong’s privacy watchdog proactively approached the school to address the issue.

In a statement released in the afternoon, the school said the decision came after thorough considerations, and they will continue to communicate with the production team and the cast.

The school also extended gratitude towards the Hong Kong Film Awards Association and the judging panel, with the movie directed by Mable Cheung Yuen-ting nominated for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Film Editing.

The controversy arose as one of the female leads, Wong Cheuk-ling, wrote in a 10,000-word article that she had always opposed the public screening of the movie, but the school and the production team insisted and stood their ground despite objections, citing an agreement signed by the girls’ parents.

Olympian cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze got caught up in it as well as she appeared shortly in the movie in a post-match interview. She later wrote on social media and encouraged people not to watch the film.

Hours before the school’s official response, the city’s privacy watchdog said it “has taken the initiative to contact the school concerned to ascertain the details of the incident.

“Generally speaking, everyone’s personal data privacy should be protected and respected, regardless of age,” a statement by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data read.

Privacy commissioner Ada Chung Lai-ling also said she has written to the school and is now awaiting its reply. She refused to further comment on the issue but noted that her office may issue relevant instructions to schools and organizations in the future.

Chung continued that her office wishes to offer suggestions to both sides and solve the dispute on the premise of respecting privacy and abiding by the law.