Henry Thong, a young Adelaide filmmaker, is wading into the murky waters of censorship with his latest short documentary, Content Censored.
The film is an examination of the effects of censorship on creative industries and what media-makers might have to expect, or be wary of in the future. “I wanted to inform people about how this might impact creatives in the future,” Thong says. Thong tells The Adelaide Review that two concurrent events in late 2014 and early 2015 spurred his interest in the topic; the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack, where North Korea threatened the studio to prevent the release of satirical film, The Interview, and the murderous attacks on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. In each of these instances, an external force attempted to silence these critical and creative voices through violence and intimidation. “It hit me because it was the first time I’d seen forced censorship as an adult,” Thong says. Over the course of 10 months, Henry Thong and his partners Wangechi Ngige and Josh Warry, spoke with cartoonists, film makers and prominent producers from Hollywood and Australia, including the Sydney Morning Herald’s Cathy Wilcox, Lion King producer Don Hahn, and Channel 9’s Richard Wilkins. As a young filmmaker, who at 19 years of age has already picked up a swag of film-making prizes, Thong says that putting together this international production has proved formative. The project took Thong and his co-producer Wangechi Ngige to Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles and New York while sound design and music composition was put together by Josh Warry in Glasgow. “It was a huge learning experience for all of us, in terms of logistics, organisation and production.” As the documentary looks towards an uncertain future, there are few immediate solutions to be found within it. Thong says he wants to get people thinking about censorship and the future of creativity, not advocate for one simple answer. “Everyone has a different opinion on these things and none are right or wrong. I guess the key is tolerance and understanding others’ point of view.”