REVIEW: Do Not Split [2020]

Rating: 7 out of 10.
  • Rating: NR | Runtime: 35 minutes
    Release Date: 2020 (USA)
    Studio: Field of Vision
    Director(s): Anders Hammer

Good guys don’t join the police.

It’s hardly a new concept. If you start to blame people for something they aren’t doing, there’s a good chance they’ll start doing it. This is true for teenagers accused of trouble during school wondering what the point of being good is if they’ll just be blamed for being bad anyway and it’s true for peaceful protestors constantly getting confronted by armed police treating them like they are violent rioters by default. What choice do they therefore have besides becoming exactly that to survive? If they’re being tear-gassed and arrested for merely standing in the street, why not make their mark and see whether doing what they’re accused of doing might finally give the police pause? If they’re going to get beaten anyway, why not throw a punch?

That’s the question protestors everywhere ask themselves and what this current wave of disruptors in Hong Kong have excelled at answering. Director Anders Hammer‘s Do Not Split proves a great document of that truth by filming multiple demonstrations that occurred in 2019 as China threatened to pass new laws that allowed them to extradite anyone they wanted to the mainland—a process that has been handing down guilty sentence at a 99% clip. So rather than watch as their home becomes a police state, these Hong Kong residents have taken to the streets to fight back. They didn’t start this war, but they surely aren’t going to be the ones to concede it out of fear. So they organize, demonstrate, and stream for the world to bear witness.

Anyone who’s been on social media the past year in America knows all too well what’s been happening in Hong Kong and many have been using those experiences to help them protest injustices here during Black Lives Matter protests. The ways in which tear gas has been dispersed and cannisters trapped under cones are being studied and implemented so future groups of oppressed people struggling for their democracy can follow suit and maybe even win. So even though we watch as China passes new laws cracking down and creating a humanitarian crisis, we can still hold onto hope that change is coming. Hammer’s film becomes a ground level battle cry as a result that captures the strength and courage of protestors opposite the cowardice of police.

The story it tells is thus less about narrative than newsreel content. Does that make it less compelling? No. But it doesn’t necessarily help it standout above its peers beyond its access level. Hammer and Point of Vision are ensuring that these crucial voices are heard and the uncensored evidence of brutality against them is shown and for that it’s undeniably an important documentary that deserves as wide an audience as possible. Any fatigue I may harbor is thus about the sheer number of these accounts rather than the content itself. It says something about the state of our world that this sort of military-based totalitarian rule has become the norm. So despite it feeling as though we’ve seen it all before, we must never stop watching.

courtesy of ShortsTV

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