Entire film banned for one-second shot of Umbrella Movement protests

Hong Kong censors have banned the airing of an award-winning one-second stage animation depicting the 2014 pro-democracy protests, local media reported, in the latest sign of restrictions on free speech in the financial center.

“Losing Sight of a Longed Place,” an eight-minute film about the struggles of a young gay man in Hong Kong, was due to be screened at a local film screening organized by the Ground Up Film Society on Sunday.

The filmmakers said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that the film was removed from the lineup after refusing to submit an edited version, without specifying which scene censors asked them to remove. The film in its entirety was rejected by the Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration, they said.

Local media, including the South China Morning Post, reported that the filmmakers were asked to delete a scene showing the 2014 “illegal occupation,” citing a phrase the government uses to describe that year’s umbrella movement- the. Thousands of peaceful protesters occupied part of the city’s central business district for months in 2014 to demand broader voting rights.

The Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Produced by three university students and released in 2017, the animation had already been approved in a government statement announcing its release at an Amsterdam film festival as part of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office’s efforts to promote the city’s film culture abroad.

Hong Kong has since cracked down on free speech following the mass anti-government unrest of 2019. Last year, authorities passed a film censorship law banning content contrary to the interests of a security law national drafted by Beijing, with penalties of up to three years in prison for those who project unapproved content.

Since the security law passed in June 2020, the city legislature has also passed an anti-doxing law, decided to limit the information available in the business registry, and waged a pressure campaign against several major government bodies. pro-democracy information, leading to their closure.