Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s Cultural Revolution-set film “One Second” has at long last passed government censorship, clearing it for a theatrical release in China, local reports and an image of the approval document circulating online show.
No release date has yet been set for the film, but it is listed on Chinese ticketing platforms as scheduled for this year.
The title was set to premiere in competition at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2019, but was abruptly yanked from the lineup just days before its premiere due to “technical reasons,” a common euphemism for state censorship. The incident stands as the highest profile case of censorship of Chinese cinema abroad in recent years.
The newly approved version of “One Second” clocks in at 104 minutes, a minute shorter than the listed run time when it was set to debut in Berlin.
Chinese reports have said that the crew likely returned last October to their original shooting location on the edge of the Gobi desert in Dunhuang, Gansu province to shoot additional footage, presumably to replace any censored sections. The production team declined to officially confirm this, but the film’s star, actor Zhang Yi (“Operation Red Sea”) posted a new still from the shoot with the caption “returned to Dunhuang again; expect [the film] in the future,” suggesting that re-shoots were ongoing and that a release would be on the horizon.
Just around that time, director Zhang told attendees of last year’s Pingyao Intl. Film Festival that he was “still not sure” when the film would release, stating: “I hope it can be seen by everyone as soon as possible.” He has called the film his “love letter to cinema.”
Zhang has been keeping busy in the meantime. In addition to “One Second,” Zhang has at least two other films coming out in 2020: crime drama “Under the Light,” which he directed, and “My People, My Hometown,” a patriotic film set to debut over the National Day holiday on Oct. 1, which he executive produced. His thriller “Impasse,” also starring Zhang Yi, is set to hit in 2021.