UPDATED, 10:49 AM: The filmmakers behind Oscar-nominated doc short Do Not Split, which reportedly drew the ire of the Chinese government Wednesday, have issued a response to the news that the state has instructed media outlets to downplay this year’s Oscar coverage.
“This alleged censoring of the Oscars due to our documentary being nominated is unfortunately not a big surprise after witnessing how freedom of speech and freedom of press is being drastically curtailed in Hong Kong,” said director and producer Anders Hammer. “Sadly the situation there is deteriorating right now, and we see activists and pro-democracy politicians risking many years in prison charged under the new draconian national security law.”
“It is important for the world to know about the erosion of liberties happening in Hong Kong, and any form of censorship only furthers the case for how crucial it is that this story, and the past, current and future events in Hong Kong, are being told as widely as possible,” added producer Charlotte Cook.
PREVIOUSLY, 03:19 AM: The Chinese government has told local media to curb coverage of the Oscars ceremony next month due to its concerns over past comments made by Best Director nominee Chloe Zhao, as well as the nomination of a short documentary about the Hong Kong protests.
Bloomberg cited local sources in reporting that the Communist Party’s propaganda department issued the order to all media, stating that coverage should focus on the less controversial categories and that they should not broadcast the ceremony in real time. The news was also reported by Radio Free Asia and Hong Kong’s Apple Daily.
Zhao was initially heralded in China after the success of Nomadland at Venice, but that reception turned sour when comments she made in a 2013 interview resurfaced. In the article with Filmmaker magazine, the director referred to China as “a place where there are lies everywhere”; the article has since been deleted. For more on the Zhao reaction check out our deep dive into the subject from Monday.
The nominated short film, Do Not Split, is by Norwegian filmmaker Anders Hammer. It covers the anti-Beijing demonstrations in Hong Kong in 2019 and China’s growing influence in the territory.
No official statement has been made by the Chinese government. The Oscars ceremony has been streamed live in the country in the last two years, including on 1905.com, which is run by a subsidiary of state broadcaster China Central Television.
The Oscars are slated to take place on April 25.
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