Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters will not be forgotten, an Oscar winner told millions of people around the world watching the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony on Monday morning.
A documentary on the 2019 protests, “Do Not Split”, was nominated for best documentary short subject – but the award went to “Colette”, which tells the story of a former French Resistance fighter who visits the Nazi concentration camp where her brother was murdered.
The director of the winning film, Anthony Giacchino, referred to Hong Kong’s protest movement in his acceptance speech, as well as the subjects of the other documentaries nominated.
“I think it’s that same power of the documentary storytelling that is going to ensure that the memory, courage and resilience of Latasha Harlins, Horace Bowers, the innocent children of Yemen and the protesters in Hong Kong are not forgotten,” he said.
“I mean, that’s why we do this. That’s why we make these films … we’re grateful that these stories and these individuals have been honoured tonight.”
On social media, Giacchino was applauded for his recognition of the SAR’s pro-democracy movement.
“Congratulations! Thanks so much for mentioning HK protesters tonight! Even though our movie can’t win, it recorded our history,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“Many, many thanks for voicing out for Hong Kong, we Hongkongers will never give up,” wrote another.
Some pro-Beijing social media users made it clear, however, that they were not impressed with Giacchino’s mention of the SAR’s protesters.
“It’s very regrettable there’s no nomination for a documentary…. on how the Hong Kong police defended the stability of the city,” one wrote on Facebook.
Most Hongkongers weren’t able to watch the ceremony live, after free-to-air broadcaster TVB decided not to air the event for the first time in more than 50 years.
TVB cited “commercial reasons” for its decision. But mainland media had condemned the nomination of “Do Not Split”, saying it “lacks artistry and is full of biased political stances”.
Some Hong Kong people found alternative ways to follow the awards ceremony, turning to online streams and even getting friends overseas to provide them with live updates on the winners.
“It’s kind of a headache. A simple thing like getting the results of an international event, seems so inconvenient or impossible now for the people in Hong Kong. That makes me feel sad,” a film buff, Dorothy, told RTHK.
Another movie lover, Wayne, said watching the Oscars has long been part of Hongkongers’ cultural life.
“As people living in the Greater Bay Area, we’ll just have to settle for whatever local TV stations put to us nowadays,” he said sarcastically.
Hong Kong’s “Better Days” lost out to Danish movie “Another Round” for best international feature film. But director Derek Tsang had already made history as the first Hong Kong-born director to be nominated for the award.