Oscar-nominated HK protest film sparks controversy

The documentary 'Do Not Split' is the latest piece of art that's caused a stir in Hong Kong.

The film follows demonstrators on the frontline of Hong Kong's 2019 protests and has been nominated for an Oscar.

Now, the free-to-air Hong Kong TV station TVB has said it won't screen the awards night after more than half a century of airing the Oscars.

The decision has fueled concerns about freedom in the city.

'Do Not Split's Norwegian filmmaker Anders Hammer believes the decision brings more global attention to the city's struggle for democracy.

"Our documentary has become part of the story told in our movie, which is how the room for expression and the freedom of the press and other basic democratic rights are disappearing in Hong Kong."

TVB said quote "it was purely a commercial decision that we decided not to pursue the Oscars this year".

China imposed a sweeping national security law last year in response to the often violent protests.

Beijing has defended the need for the law, saying it was necessary to restore order.

Western governments and rights groups say the law has crushed freedoms in the city.

Many activists, including U.S.-based Joey Siu, who appears in the documentary, have fled the city to continue their advocacy.

"I mean obviously, 'Do Not Split' being nominated for Oscars is going to be very encouraging and motivating news for the people of Hong Kong who are still trying so hard to sustain the movement. So in that sense I would say it is not shocking or surprising for me that the Hong Kong government, or the pro-Beijing tele broadcasting companies decided not show that."

Scrutiny over arts, media and culture has intensified in recent months.

Cinemas pulled a local protest documentary, a press photography exhibition was banned and a new art museum closed to allow the police's new national security unit to vet its collection.