×

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Zhang Yimou’s “One Second,” set during China’s 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, has been withdrawn from the Berlin Film Festival, where it was to premiere in competition.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Zhang had positioned “One Second” as his personal tribute to cinema, speculation immediately arose that the film was withdrawn for political reasons.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 Sources told Variety that that movie was withdrawn for censorship reasons, though the public stance has been to say that “Better Days” was not completed in time.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

  • Emma Thompson

    Emma Thompson Exits Skydance Animation Movie 'Luck' Over John Lasseter Hire

    Emma Thompson has dropped out of the voice cast of Skydance Animation’s upcoming film “Luck,” a spokesperson for the actress told Variety. The beloved British star did some recording for the project, but dropped out in January, following John Lasseter’s hire to the top animation job at David Ellison’s studio, an insider close to the [...]

  • Daniel Kaluuya Lakeith Stanfield

    Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield in Talks to Star in Film About Black Panther Party Leader

    Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield are in negotiations to star in the historical drama “Jesus Was My Homeboy” about Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton. The project is set up at Warner Bros. with “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler producing along with Charles King through his Marco production company. Executive producers are Sev Ohanian, Zinzi [...]

  • Watch First Trailer for Motley Crue

    Watch First Trailer for Motley Crue Biopic 'The Dirt'

    Netflix has dropped the first trailer for its Motley Crue biopic “The Dirt” — based on Neil Strauss’ best-selling history of the legendarily bad-behaved ‘80s metal icons — and it looks like the film pulls no punches in terms of the band’s famously sordid history. In this two-minute trailer, we get glimpses of singer Vince [...]

  • ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the

    MyFrenchFilmFestival Prizes ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the Right Shape’

    Actress-director Noémie Lvovsky’s “Tomorrow And Thereafter,” a heartfelt homage to the director’s own mother, and Fabien Gorgeart’s “Diane Has the Right Shape,” about one woman’s surrogate motherhood, both won big at the 2019 UniFrance MyFrenchFilmFestival which skewed female in its winners and viewership, making particularly notable inroads into South East Asia and Latin America. Opening [...]

  • Vue International Chief Slams BAFTA For

    Vue International Chief Slams BAFTA for Awarding Prizes to 'Roma'

    Tim Richards, the founder and chief executive of Vue International, one of the largest cinema chains in Europe, has slammed the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for awarding prizes to Netflix’s “Roma.” Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white film, which is also up for several Oscars, won four BAFTAs at the awards ceremony in London on [...]

  • Oscars Ultimate Party Guide

    Oscar's Ultimate Party Guide 2019

    Welcome to Oscar week. It’s the time of year when Hollywood’s film industry celebrates all things movies. But it’s certainly not just the big show everyone is looking forward to. With voting closed, it’s all about the parties now. Who’s doing what and where and when are they doing it are the questions everyone is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content