In the latest in a litany of controversies to dog the project, China’s censors have banned the makers of the steamy “Lost in Beijing” from working on films because they screened an unapproved version of the pic at the Berlinale last year and for obscenity.
Co-production company Beijing Laurel Films and producer Fang Li were also banned for illegally distributing unapproved and pornographic clips online.
Set in contempo China, “Lost” follows the relationship between a Beijing massage parlor boss, played by Hong Kong thesp Tony Leung, and his employee, played by mainland starlet Fan Bingbing.
Chinese censors objected to scenes that depict gambling and sex, but the overall tone of the pic was always set to raise official hackles.
The Film Bureau told Fang last year 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 film’s moral tone.
In the end, the pic screened uncut as the producers said there was not time to make changes. Pic opened in theaters in China on Nov. 30.
However, it is the pornographic online clips that appear to be the crux of the ban, which forbids Fang from having any involvement in the film biz for the next two years although he is appealing the decision.
“We are the victims in this whole thing. One of our unprocessed, unedited images was stolen and distributed on the Internet,” Fang said in a telephone interview.
Fang also produced “Summer Palace,” whose helmer Lou Ye was banned from working on films for five years after the pic appeared in the Cannes competition without Chinese permission.
“Our material was stolen and I’m being made to take responsibility. I’m the victim of a thief — I’m surprised, it’s a big shock. The movie has been in theaters for weeks,” said Fang, who said he would meet the Film Bureau next week to discuss the issue.