China tells media to downplay Oscars with nominated protest film


The Hong Kong protests documentary “Do Not Split” was nominated for Best Documentary Short Film.

China told local media not to broadcast next month’s Oscars in real time and to downplay coverage of the awards, according to people familiar with the matter, after a documentary about the Hong Kong protests was nominated and amid concern over Best’s political views. Aspiring director Chloe Zhao.

The Communist Party’s propaganda department issued the order to all media outlets, the people said, declining to be identified given the sensitivity of the issue. The media were told that coverage of the Oscars should focus on awards that are not considered controversial, according to people.

The order was also reported by other outlets, including Radio Free Asia and Hong Kong’s Apple Daily on Tuesday night. China’s State Council information office did not respond to a fax seeking comment.

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Nominated for Best Short Documentary, “Do Not Split” chronicles the anti-Beijing demonstrations that took place in Hong Kong in mid-2019 and China’s growing power and influence in the former British territory. Run by Norwegian videojournalist Anders Hammer, it has barely been covered in China, which maintains a tight grip on local and social media platforms within the country. The government regularly issues censorship orders, which also scrutinizes posts on social media.

Although initially praised in the Chinese press for the success of her naturalistic film “Nomadland,” Zhao, which won the Golden Globe for Best Director last month, has since drawn criticism from a 2013 interview in which he is said to have described China as “a place where there are lies everywhere.”

American tensions

The director, whose father was allegedly a senior executive in a large state-owned steel company and whose stepmother is a famous comic actress in China, has also been criticized by users of local social networks. Zhao, who grew up in America, has made mostly movies about America.

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