Director apologizes for public screening documentary against student’s will

Renowned director Mabel Cheung Yuen-ting on Monday apologized for the public screening of her documentary, To My Nineteen-year-old, admitting that she knew one of the students objected to the move but thought the screening would not bring any negative impact to them.

The 136-minute documentary follows six secondary school students from Cheung's alma mater, Ying Wa Girls' School, for over a decade to witness the agony and ecstasy of growing up during a turbulent period in Hong Kong and tell their personal journeys of self-discovery.

The distributor on Sunday suspended public screening of the documentary amid complaints of privacy invasion by star cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze and two of the students featured in it.

Speaking on a radio program this morning, Cheung apologized to Wong - one of the students featuring in the documentary and objected to the public screening, admitting that more could be done in communicating between the production team and her.

The director said she knew in advance that Wong only accepted the movie being screened privately and in film festivals but not for the public.

She said, however, the documentary has drawn positive responses after the advanced screenings, with audiences speaking highly of the students and the documentary, and that she thought the public screening of the production would not negatively impact the students.

Cheung said considering the students had consented to the public screening of the documentary in 2011 - when they were still under 18, along with Wong and her family attending the advanced screening events, she decided that the public screening should go ahead despite Wong not signing a second agreement.

Wong wrote in a 10,000-word article published on Ming Pao Weekly earlier claiming she and other girls had tried their best to oppose the public screening. A Ying Wa alumna, Ng, also said she and other students had never heard that the documentary would be screened publicly.

Cheung added that with the documentary now suspended from public screening, she and her team will try talk to Wong again.

The documentary will no longer be screened if Wong still opposes to it, she said.

The director also apologized to cyclist Lee for including footage of her interview in the documentary, explaining that the interview was conducted after obtaining consent from staff of the city’s cycling association.