A documentary on the protests in Hong Kong has become the first casualty of the recently passed national anthem protection law by the pro-China Hong Kong Legislative Assembly.
Although an uncut version of New York-based director Evans Chan’s “We Have Boots” had its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in the Netherlands earlier this year, a political art segment will be cut from the new expanded two-hour documentary.
The segment, which will be cut involves local performance artist Kacey Wong playing music from March of the Volunteers on the accordion during a protest march in 2018. Wong’s performance of The Patriot juxtaposes a portable jail cell on wheels with music from the Chinese and UK national anthems, as well as “Do you hear the people sing?” from the musical Les Miserables.
“I decided to delete it” as the scene could be found to be insulting the national anthem under the new law,” Chan reportedly said.
However, he also added that his artistic films on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement could no longer be screened locally due to Beijing’s national security law tailor-made for Hong Kong.
The new version of the documentary includes interviews with key figures in the 2014 Umbrella Movement, such as University of Hong Kong law professor Benny Tai, retired Chinese University of Hong Kong sociologist Chan Kin-man, and pro-democracy lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun. They have talked about the emotional impact of the movement and their preparedness for potential imprisonment.
Despite several protests, the Hong Kong Legislative Assembly on June 3 passed the new national anthem law thus criminalizing the abuse of China’s national anthem.
The law has clearly stated the manner in which people should behave when March of the Volunteers is played. Under the law, a person who publicly and intentionally insults the anthem faces up to three years in jail or a maximum fine of HK$50,000 (US$6,450).
People must stand solemnly and “deport themselves with dignity” when the song is played on certain occasions, and they should not behave in a disrespectful manner.