The Shanghai International Film Festival, which opens Saturday, will not go ahead with the scheduled screening of Japanese cartoon “Attack on Titan: Guren No Yumiya.” The film appeared recently on a list of animated content which the Chinese government has banned because of “violent and pornographic content.”
In a statement circulated only to Chinese media, the festival said that “Titan” had been withdrawn “due to technical reasons.” It said that the film’s three screenings will now be filled with other festival titles and that refunds would be available to those who bought tickets in advance.
“Titan” (aka “Attack on Titan: Crimson Bow And Arrow”) is directed by Tetsuo Araki, produced by Wit Studio. It is handled internationally by Pony Canyon.
The film was one of eight Japanese movies submitted to the Shanghai festival by the Japan-China Friendship Film Festival Executive Committee. Festivals in China are often able to show films that would not be screened in Chinese commercial theaters, but they are not exempt from censorship.
All eight films were reviewed and initially approved. However, that ruling may have been superseded by a Ministry of Culture announcement earlier this week banning the 38 films, closing eight Internet portals and punishing 29 Internet platforms for carrying the content.
“By providing illegal content, these companies violated regulations on Internet cultural management, audio and visual programs and services,” the ministry said in a statement carried by the Xinhua news agency. The list also includes “Death Note,” a popular film series about a high school crime fighter with special powers.
The move comes in the same week as the Shanghai and Tokyo festivals are due to sign a wide-ranging cooperation agreement. And it comes only two weeks after another Japanese cartoon, the family friendly “Stand By Me Doraemon” became the first Japanese movie to be given a mainstream release in China since 2012. “Doraemon” topped the box office chart in its opening week and now stands on a cumulative total of $90.9 million after 15 days on release.