×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Busan: Why ‘Rib’ Director Zhang Wei Accepted 40 Minutes of Censorship Cuts

Independent Chinese director Zhang Wei must be one of the best-tempered auteurs in the industry. He repeatedly accepts setbacks like badges of honor, but plows on anyway.

Zhang has produced, directed and financed socially aware films “Factory Boss” and “Sound of a Dream,” with his latest film, “The Rib,” world-premiering at the Busan International Film Festival. But before getting to Korea, it underwent a massive 40- minute cut in a unique censorship process.

The film depicts the strained relationship between a devout Christian father and his son, who is seeking a sex change operation. Initially opposed to his son’s plans, the father seeks further guidance after he is shaken by the suicide of a friend.

“It is very much the father’s journey,” Zhang told Variety. “On one level it is a father-son story. On another, it is an exploration of the LGBT community that the father goes to consult. Many people in real life feel unable to reveal their true selves, and flee from their family.”

The role of Christianity, which China permits in an unusual pact between the Communist government and the Vatican, is also crucial to “The Rib.” China no longer criminalizes homosexuality or categorizes a gay lifestyle as a mental illness and it does permit transgender surgery. But it remains a major social stigma. And the church in China forbids sex changes.

“All the LGBT depictions in my film are accurate and (China’s censors at) the Film Bureau had no problem in approving the movie. But the Film Bureau obliged it to also be approved by the church. The church required me to cut 40 minutes of rites and religious activities.” The film’s run time, according to the Busan catalog, is a brisk 85 minutes.

“I am not trying to attack the system, and I understand the double censorship process, which is intended to preserve social harmony. I totally accept the cuts,” said Zhang.

That might sound implausible coming from anyone else, especially when Zhang describes “The Rib” as his passion project, and had largely financed it himself. But Zhang’s way of dealing with obstacles is to simply find another mountain to climb.

He is currently readying three other films. One, “Empty Nest,” is his first adaptation of an existing work. It sees a lonely, intellectual woman allow herself to be the victim of fraud, because it provides her with human company. Another sees a courageous scientist take on the established Chinese and U.S. government positions on genetically modified food. A third will probe depression among the professions.

More Film

  • Nona

    Film Review: 'Nona'

    Twenty years and 12 features down the line, it’s still hard to peg the directorial sensibility of Michael Polish, with or without the presence of brother Mark as frequent co-writer and actor. His output has been all over the place, from early Lynchian quirkfests to the very middle-of-the-road inspirational dramedy “The Astronaut Farmer,” not to [...]

  • Pawel Pawlikowski "Cold War"

    Pawel Pawlikowski's 'Cold War' Wins for Best Film, Director at European Film Awards

    “Cold War,” Pawel Pawlikowski’s black-and-white romance set in the 1950s, scooped the prizes for best film, director and screenplay at the 31st edition of the European Film Awards on Saturday. “Cold War” star Joanna Kulig also won the award for best actress. Marcello Fonte, the star of Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” won for best actor. Armando Iannucci’s [...]

  • The Favourite Bohemian Rapsody Star is

    The Best Movie Scenes of 2018

    When we think back on a movie that transported us, we often focus on a great scene — or maybe the greatest scene — in it. It’s natural. Those scenes are more than just defining. They can be the moment that lifts a movie into the stratosphere, that takes it to the higher reaches of [...]

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    Box Office: 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Soars Toward $35-40 Million Debut

    “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is swinging into theaters on a high note. Sony-Marvel’s latest output is launching to $42 million from 3,813 North American locations in its debut, though other more conservative estimates place that number at $35.5 million. The animated superhero story picked up $12.6 million on Friday, easily leading the pack for the weekend. [...]

  • Ventana Sur : Cinema226 Closes Four

    Cinema226 Announces Four Intl. Co-Productions, Hints at More (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexico’s Cinema226, run by Marco Antonio Salgado and Sam Guillén, is driving into a raft of Mexico, Argentina and Spain co-productions, playing off the current vibrancy of Mexican film production funding and distribution outlets. Among the projects are titles which have been standouts at Ventana Sur’s Blood Window, the next film by Mexico-based Argentine filmmaker [...]

  • Ventana Sur Debates Gender Parity in

    Ventana Sur Debates Gender’s 50/50 in 2020 for Argentina Film Industry

    BUENOS AIRES — Despite recent gains, namely the equality pledge towards 50/50-2020 signed at the Mar del Plata Film Festival on Nov. 12, producer Magalí Nieva, pointed out that no representative from INCAA was present following the apparent resignation of its vice-president Fernando Juan Lima. “We are left without an interlocutor to discuss gender policies [...]

  • Ventana Sur Rocks with Sales, Mass

    Ventana Sur Rocks with Sales, Mass Attendance, Structural Growth

    BUENOS AIRES — Celebrating its 10th anniversary with a huge hike in attendance to over 4,000 accredited delegates, the 2018 Ventana Sur will go down in history on multiple counts: Sales and pick-ups on movies which combined social comment and entertainment value, increasingly the new foreign-language movie standard; new sections, led by a Proyecta co-production [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content