Chinese pic banned from playing at fest

Fang Li, producer of “Lost in Beijing” is haggling furiously with China’s censors and said there is still a chance his movie will receive official approval from the Film Bureau after a special screening today.

China’s Film Bureau told Fang that “Lost,” helmed by Li Yu, one of the country’s few emerging female helmers, could not go to the Berlinale because a censorship committee was unhappy with the moral tone of the film.

On Friday, the Berlin Film Festival said “Lost in Beijing” remained in fest’s main competition lineup despite its official ban from the fest by China’s Film Bureau.

“It’s still in our program and we hope a resolution will be found and that it will screen,” said Berlinale spokeswoman Frauke Greiner.

“Lost” tells of a relationship between a Beijing massage parlor boss, played by Hong Kong thesp Tony Leung, and his employee, played by mainland starlet Fan Bingbing set in contempo China. Chinese censors have objected to scenes that depict gambling and sex in the film..

China’s Film Bureau told producer Fang Li that the film could not go to Berlin after a Wednesday screening for government censors.

“Lost in Beijing” may still screen at the Berlinale if the cuts demanded by censors are made in time, although the producer has said such cuts would destroy the film.

“On Friday we made some progress. We put everything on the table, we went to the Film Bureau without an appointment, trying to convince everyone. There is only one choice for me — protect this film,” Fang said.

Censorship committees often comprise more than 30 people and many have nothing to do with the film business.

“Sex is not the issue, it’s the morality and value systems. Everyone agrees our topic is good, but they want some figure to speak out about these issues,” said Fang.

Fang said he is trying to stop China’s top helmers being forced underground or to leave the country to work abroad. Fang also produced “Summer Palace”, whose helmer Lou Ye was banned from working for five years after the pic appeared in the Cannes competition without Chinese permission.

“Lost” may still screen at the Berlinale if the cuts demanded by censors are made in time, although the producer complains that the cuts are damaging the film and its depiction of relationshipsToday’sscreening will the fifth evaluation by the censorship committee.

“This time there is no excuse. We’ve made lots of changes, we’ve been to see them many times,” said Fang.

Last year Lou Ye, who directed the Fang-produced “Summer Palace,” was banned from working for five years after the pic appeared in the Cannes competition without Chinese permission.

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