Helmer: country should learn from HK, U.S. pix

Censorship is stifling the development of genre movies in China, local helmer Jia Zhangke told Variety at the Shanghai Film Festival.

Jia, who won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2006 for “Still Life,” added that filmmakers needed to learn more from Hollywood and Hong Kong movies.

“The development of film genres in China is limited by censorship. Banning sex, violence, horror and (sensitive) political themes is culturally naive. We need to learn from Hollywood and Hong Kong about how they explore genres,” Jia said, speaking at the fest, which ended Sunday. “Martial-arts films in Hong Kong always find new factors to add in, which is great.”

For many years, the helmer of “Unknown Pleasures” and “Xiao Wu” was a fest favorite outside China, where his pics were banned, although his recent movies have been shown there.

China’s Film Bureau has a rigorous censorship system, and closely monitors all films and skeins to ensure they contain no content that is considered dangerous. Movies that portray the police in a bad light, for example, are banned, and any pics with a political edge are not distributed.

China does not have a film classification system and many filmmakers at the Shanghai fest called for one to be introduced as it might allow more movies to pass the censor.

Zhang Jinghua, deputy editor of the Economic Observer, said that sticking to historical themes was the easiest approach, but not necessarily the best for viewers.

“Making a historical film is the safest way, it’s a kind of an escape from the real world, but personally I don’t like it that much,” he said. “I want to see films whose stories I don’t know. If I already know the ending at the beginning of a film, why should I watch?”

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