Oscar nominee “Don’t Share” is now part of Hong Kong’s director’s story of declining freedoms

The decision in Hong Kong not to broadcast this year’s Oscars only attracted more global attention to his fight for democracy, said the director of the documentary “Don’t Share” about the city protests in 2019, which was shortlisted for the award.

The TVB broadcaster, which has been broadcasting an Oscar every year since 1969, said it would not hold the ceremony this year for commercial reasons.

TVB’s decision has raised concerns about the reduction of freedoms in Hong Kong, which has taken an authoritarian path since China introduced a comprehensive national security law last year in response to the often violent 2019 protests.

Norwegian filmmaker Anders Hammer said in an interview with Reuters that he believes the decision is politically motivated, but is helping to focus even more attention on Hong Kong, which is primarily the main goal of his documentary.

“It’s sad that the Oscars are being censored in Hong Kong in a way that people can’t see it like they did for 52 years on normal television,” Hammer said in a video call from Oslo, where he will be during the pandemic awards ceremony.

“In a way, our documentary has become part of the story told in our film, and that is how space for expression and freedom of the press and other basic democratic rights are disappearing in Hong Kong.”

Responding to e-mail questions, TVB said “that we have decided not to continue the Oscars this year”, it was a purely commercial decision “, and declined to comment further.

The Hong Kong government did not respond to a request for comment.

You can still watch the Oscars online in Hong Kong.

For the first time at the Oscars, Hong Kong-born director Derek Tsang earned a nomination. His romantic crime film “Better Days” was shortlisted in the category of the best international feature films. read more

Arts, media and culture scrutiny has intensified in recent months in Hong Kong, where cinemas have released a local protest documentary, a university has canceled a photo exhibition, and a museum of contemporary art to open soon said it will allow a new national police security scrutiny unit. of their collections.

Authorities said rights and freedoms in Hong Kong remained intact, and the former British colony retained a high degree of autonomy from Beijing, but national security was a red line that could not be crossed.

Many city officials criticized reporting on the protests, which gave protesters a long time in an attempt to “glorify the violence.”

“Don’t Share,” shortlisted in the short documentary category, follows various groups of protesters from the summer of 2019 all the way to the coronavirus and national security laws that ended the demonstrations a year later.

His introductory scene depicts a group of black-clad protesters seeking directions to a branch of the Bank of China, which they later set on fire in anger over Beijing’s growing crackdown on Hong Kong.

The security law has drawn criticism from Western governments and international rights groups who say it has put the global financial center on an authoritarian path. Her supporters say the law has established order.

Since it was introduced, dozens of activists and opposition politicians have been imprisoned. More than 10,000 people have been arrested in connection with the protests. Many activists, including American Joey Siu, who appears in the documentary, have fled the city to continue their advocacy.

“The saddest part of working on this documentary was seeing how the whole situation affected the people I followed,” Hammer said.

“I felt close to them, I filmed them in a very intimate way and I followed them in many, many situations.”

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