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Changes in China’s film censorship policy

A rejigging of film censorship rules in China

03·17·2014

Changes in China’s film censorship policy

A rejigging of film censorship rules in China

03·17·2014

China’s censorship of films is set to take a turn. State film regulators have introduced a new policy, which intends to liberalize the country’s film scene. Critics are already doubtful that the changes will make much difference.

As reported in Wall Street Journal:

“Domestic films soon will be censored by regulators in the province where film production companies are based, rather than by a national one, extending nationwide a program that had been in place in five provinces since 2010.”

Although, the change is intended to loosen the grip on censorship, it’s is still doubtful whether that it will make a big difference to the industry. Xie Fei, a director and a professor at the Beijing Film Academy, film regulators are just offering “a new bottle of old wine”,  and he accused the film regulators of  “censoring local films that will never make it to screens to be seen by audiences” while “turning a blind eye to the absence of ratings on foreign films posted online as well as the messy situation of intellectual rights protection online”.

The new regulations will take effect from April. According to the Wall Street Journal:, the state regulator will maintain censorship over domestic films based on ‘important revolutionary, historic themes and literature,’ as well as co-productions with foreign firms”.

It is long been a challenge for film directors to overcome censorship barriers. Keanu Reeves whose film The Man of Taichi was shot in Beijing and Hong Kong, faced many difficulties while making the movie. The underground fighting scene in the film was not allowed to be shot in Beijing and was shot in Hong Kong instead. The movie also had scenes focusing on power, corruption and greed,  all touchy subjects for Chinese censors.

Iron Man 3 censorship went even further. Marvel Studios released two versions of the movie. The Chinese version featured extra footage with actress Fan Bingbing and acclaimed actor Wang Xueqi., while Ben Kingsley’s evil Chinese references were removed.

Django Unchained was set to be released on April 11, 2013, but was suddenly pulled for what were explained as “technical reasons”. The real reason for stopping the movie was carelessness on the part of censors: they missed Jamie Fox’s nudity scene when they initially censored the film.

film-censoring-imageThe most recent censorship victim, A Touch of Sin by Jia Zhangke, won best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival, but met serious censorship issues in China. The film is highly violent, but also focuses on injustice, as well as indifference towards China’s poor.