Realscreen is partnering with filmmaker and executive producer Chuck Braverman and his Westdoc Online video series to bring his interviews with acclaimed documentarians and non-fiction content industry figures to its readership.
The latest episode features the short doc Do Not Split: A Season of Protests in Hong Kong, which made the shortlist for consideration for the upcoming Academy Award nominations.
In the interview, Hammer, an investigative journalist based in Oslo, Norway, was already traveling in the region in 2019 when he heard about the protests in Hong Kong. His idea was to make a “physical movie”, by following the movements of the protesters in the streets, he says, “which were really fascinating because you had these waves of young people playing cat and mouse with the police.”
Hammer is no stranger to conflict zones, having lived and made films in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. During the filming of Do Not Split, Hammer was hassled by the police who accused him, and other foreign press of producing propaganda. He personally had to dodge everything from tear gas canisters to rubber bullets and fire bombs, and ended up with a broken nose, but compared to the protesters who were risking their whole futures and lives, Hammer says, he had it easy.
Hammer also discusses the economics of making doc shorts. He cites the support of Field of Vision, with whom he made the docseries Our Allies, about the war on ISIS. But he also points out that Norway, being a wealthy country, has a robust system of documentary funding — so much so that other international filmmakers are trying to align themselves with Norwegian producers to access funds.
As for making the shortlist of 10 shorts out of 115 submitted to the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences, Hammer has never been part of a project that has been in contention for such an honor, but he and Field of Vision were happy for the attention the news has brought to the project, especially in Hong Kong among the pro-democracy movement.
Do Not Split can be screened via www.fieldofvision.org
To see these and other episodes of Westdoc Online, visit the official site.