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Footage from Hong Kong reveals the combustible, contested reality of street protest

‘With the police brutality over the five months, it’s evolved from a political problem into, actually, an ethical one.’
– Pro-democracy protestor, November 2019, Hong Kong

Since being transferred from British to Chinese control in 1997, Hong Kong has operated under a ‘one country, two systems’ framework, which allowed its government relative independence from the Chinese Communist Party, and its people more rights than those living on mainland China. But in February 2019, a proposed bill that would allow extradition to mainland China was viewed by many Hongkongers as a harbinger of human rights violations and political dissent crackdowns to come, sparking a massive pro-democracy protest movement in the region. And although Hong Kong’s government formally withdrew the bill in October 2019, police brutality and worries over continued threats to the political freedoms kept the movement afloat.

Compiled by the Norwegian journalist and filmmaker Anders Hammer between October 2019 and July 2020, Do Not Split is composed of incredible on-the-ground and from-the-air footage of the protests. This dramatic documentary reveals much about the situation in Hong Kong, including the pro-democracy movement’s struggle to survive COVID-19 and a sweeping new national security law imposed by Beijing in June 2020. But beyond the scope of the South China Sea, it’s a telling glimpse into the nature of modern mass protest movements, in which clashes between protestors, counter-protesters and police are on the verge of combusting, and with each scene captured by swarms of cameraphones.

Director: Anders Hammer

Producer: Charlotte Cook

Website: Field of Vision

4 February 2021

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