Nicole Kidman’s series Expats has been censored in Hong Kong (Picture: AP)
The actress, 56, stars in the drama miniseries Expats, based on the 2016 novel The Expatriates by Janice Y. K. Lee.
It follows ‘the vibrant lives of a close-knit expatriate community: where affluence is celebrated, friendships are intense but knowingly temporary, and personal lives, deaths and marriages are played out publicly—then retold with glee’.
Filmed in Hong Kong in 2021, the first two episodes were released around the world this week.
However, when settling in to watch it, people in Hong Kong were instead met with a message informing them they would not be able to tune in.
‘This video is currently unavailable to watch in your location,’ was what they were presented with instead.
It is based on a 2016 novel and centers on three American women (Picture: AP)
This was because the streaming service has elected to self-censor the show in an effort to ‘pre-empt any future potential business risk’, according to a report from The Sydney Morning Herald.
Set against the backdrop of Hong Kong, Expats centres on three American women who struggle to move on after a shocking tragedy that ties them altogether forever.
The first episode includes a brief scene in which people at a rally chant in Cantonese: ‘I want real general elections.’
The trailer for the show also features a crowd holding umbrellas, a reference to the 2014 Umbrella Movement, when protesters demanded the right to choose the city’s chief executive.
The city has hardened its controls over political speech after years of major protests, which spread across Hong Kong in 2019.
In 2020, China passed a National Security Law that criminalised political activities, such as protesting for independence.
Viewers in Hong Kong haven’t been able to watch the series (Picture: Prime Video via AP)
Since then, hundreds of activists have been arrested or driven into exile, while opposition-leaning media organisations have been forced out of business.
In June 2021, the city’s government also changed the Film Censorship Ordinance to give them the power to remove films which include ‘portrayal, depiction or treatment of any act or activity which may amount to an offense endangering national security’.
A spokesperson at the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau said the government was not commenting on the issue and directed questions to Amazon, as reported by AP.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Front Row this month, filmmaker Lulu Wang explained how the production had been careful when presenting the political scenes.
‘We shot most of the political stuff in Los Angeles, it’s definitely challenging. You know there is a lot of questions of like “Can you show this”, “What can you not”,’ she said.
‘We worked with legal teams to really guide us, because you have to do it responsibly also, and there’s so many people who are working on it, who live in Hong Kong.’
It referenced the Umbrella Movement in the early episodes (Picture: Reuters)
She added it was ‘very important to be able to show this particular moment in this year in Hong Kong very accurately’.
This isn’t the first time the series has sparked controversy in the region after Nicole faced backlash during filming.
In the height of the pandemic, the government gave her permission to skip the 21-day mandatory quarantine when she came to Hong Kong to film.
At the time local authorities that the restrictions were waived for the team ‘to carry out designated professional work’.
Metro.co.uk has contacted Amazon Prime Video for comment.
Expats is streaming on Prime Video.
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