×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Zhang Yimou’s ‘One Second’ Pulled From Berlin Festival Lineup

Zhang Yimou’s “One Second,” set during China’s 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, has been withdrawn from the Berlin Film Festival, where it was to premiere in competition.

A post Monday on the film’s official Weibo social media site announced that the film had been yanked, saying that it was for “technical reasons.” The festival confirmed the information, and explained that the film had not been completed.

The move means that Berlin’s competition section will drop from 17 to 16 films. However, Berlin expects to play another, older, film by Zhang in the same time slot on Friday, albeit out of competition. Sources close to the festival said that Zhang’s 2002 art-house actioner “Hero” will fill the slot.

Though Zhang had positioned “One Second” as his personal tribute to cinema, speculation immediately arose that the film was withdrawn for political reasons. “One Second” is set during China’s 1966-76 Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong, a period that the Communist Party has itself acknowledged was disastrous but that remains a sensitive, if not taboo, topic.

Zhang’s film is the second Chinese film to be pulled from Berlin this year. The first was “Better Days,” a story about a disaffected youth, which was to premiere in the Generation section. Sources told Variety that that movie was withdrawn for censorship reasons, though the public stance has been to say that “Better Days” was not completed in time.

The official social media site for “One Second” said enigmatically: ” ‘One Second’ is not allowed to be showed at the Berlin International Film Festival for technical reasons. Apologies.”

China has been undergoing considerable political and cultural tightening over the past year under President Xi Jinping, the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao. And responsibility for regulating the entertainment industry last year was moved directly under the Communist Party’s Propaganda department.

“One Second” was produced through auteur-controlled production and streaming conglomerate Huanxi Media. Hong Kong’s Edko Films recently picked up international sales rights outside Greater China. Earlier this week, Edko said that the film had not been shown privately to buyers and that it had not yet completed licensing deals.

Neither Kong or Edko sales representatives in Berlin have responded to Variety‘s requests for comment.

Rumors of possible withdrawal have similarly dogged Lou Ye’s “The Shadow Play” which was scheduled to play in Berlin’s Panorama section on Monday. The film is a gritty, recent history drama about corrupt property developers. It features the grim discovery of a body, presumably murdered, in its opening scene, and in its first reel depicts a riot by village dwellers against forced eviction. Those are elements that typically attract the wrath of Chinese censors.

But the festival went ahead with a press screening of “Shadow Play,” preceded by display of the Dragon Seal that shows it has passed censorship. A press conference followed.

More Film

  • 'Aladdin,' 'Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,' 'Shaft' Set

    'Aladdin,' 'Pokemon: Detective Pikachu' and 'Shaft' Set for China Debuts

    Disney’s new live-action “Aladdin” will release in China on May 24, day-and-date with North America, giving the studio a run of three films in Chinese theaters as many months.  Two other Hollywood titles will also hit the big screen in the Middle Kingdom in the coming months: “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu” on May 10 and the [...]

  • Patrimonio

    Film Review: 'Patrimonio'

    Though it never really went away on much of the globe, a sort of creeping feudalism is making such a striking comeback — with the ever-more-fabulously-rich squeezing the poor of every dime and resource — that Lisa F. Jackson and Sarah Teale’s documentary “Patrimonio” feels like a frightening portent. Will such crude appropriations of land [...]

  • Fan Bingbing

    Fan Bingbing Starts to Re-Emerge Months After Tax Scandal

    Half a year after she was found guilty of tax fraud and disappeared from the public eye, Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing has begun to signal her comeback, attending a gala event and launching her own beauty product on social media this week. The 37-year-old actress unexpectedly hit the red carpet in Beijing on Monday at [...]

  • I Trapped the Devil

    Film Review: 'I Trapped the Devil'

    “I Trapped the Devil” sounds like the title of a sermon or gospel song, but it’s a very literal-minded statement coming from the mouth of a leading character in writer-director Josh Lobo’s debut feature. This being a horror film, there’s a chance he’s even literally correct, rather than simply mad. A mixed-bag frightfest, IFC’s limited [...]

  • American Factory

    Tribeca Film Review: 'American Factory'

    When the last truck rolled off the assembly line of the General Motors factory outside Dayton, Ohio, filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert were there to film it, documenting the end of a certain American dream, along with the unemployment of more than 2,000 people — down from 6,000 in more prosperous times. That was [...]

  • 'Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project': Truth-Teller

    Tribeca Film Review: 'Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project'

    VHS tapes now have a weird sort of stodgy magical aura. Long ago, they were standard. With the arrival of DVD, they were behind the curve. Then they were totally outdated and unworkable (at a certain point, who besides Quentin Tarantino still had an operational VCR?). But now they’re so old they’re like mystic electromagnetic [...]

  • PLAYA VISTA, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 24:

    Shorts Encourage Women to STEAM Careers

    Straight Up Films created the anthology “Power/On” of five shorts focused on encouraging girls in STEAM (science, technology, engineering and math with the arts thrown in) directed by actresses Rosario Dawson, Julie Bowen, Ana Brenda Contreras, Lisa Edelstein, and Nikki Reed. With support from YouTube, the shorts premiered Wednesday at the Google campus in Playa [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content