The “surprise movie” scheduled to be shown in Fortnight by directors but pulled at the last minute is the animation by Chinese director Liu Jian. A picture of the artist as he was youngn. It would have been the only Chinese film to be shown at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
But regulators announced last week that late entry would not be ready in time due to the ongoing epidemic restrictions in Beijing.
Produced by Yang Cheng and with voice actors including Chinese director Jia Changqi, a regular in Cannes, the film was shown at the Art College in the 1990s, casting a bitter look at youth drawn from Liu’s experiences as an art student.
As China maintains a zero-Covid policy, with shutdowns in Beijing and Shanghai, post-production facilities are among those that have closed, which may have affected the film’s completion.
However, Liu had previously signed against Chinese censorship in 2017 with his second animated film, Have a nice day. After its premiere at the Berlinale – as the first Chinese animation to be selected to play in competition – the black comedy was pulled from the Annecy Film Festival in France after pressure from Chinese officials.
Producer Yang did not respond to ScreenComment request.
China is almost absent from Cannes
China is represented by a few short films in the official selection and through parallel sections to it this year. Last year, there were no titles in the competition other than Wei Shujun ripples of life Showed for the first time in the directors two weeks and Na Jyutsu in the direction of the street He played Un Certain Regard while Wen Shipei’s are you Lonesome Tonight? And the documentary film Zhao Liao I am so sorry both in special offers.
Beijing-based Rediance handled two titles last year – ripples of life And I am so sorry. “Censorship is a long and complex process,” said Rediance CEO Xie Meng. “Once the film is finished, a number of passes must be applied for before it can be premiered abroad. By the time the festival invitation drops, the time to premiere is very short. There are now more hurdles that we need to overcome, making The whole process is longer and more difficult. Time is always a problem. If the official censorship is not completely cleared in time, it will end up One second. “
One second It is a Chinese drama, set during the Cultural Revolution and directed by Zhang Yimou, that was selected at the Berlinale in 2019, but was pulled from competition just four days before its world premiere. The same year also saw Hong Kong director Derek Tsang withdraw from the film China better days From the Generation Department at the Berlinale.
“There is stricter control over film production and festival distribution at various points in the Chinese movie restaurant chain,” said Toronto-based film programmer Shelley Kraiser, who has lived in Beijing for more than a decade. “It is difficult or nearly impossible to get approval for anything controversial at all. Even things that would have been completely abusive to the authorities a decade ago are now completely prohibited.”
Outside the censorship system, he added: “The gray areas that existed that promoted Chinese art cinema purely or semi-autonomously, have been systematically closed down. The Chinese government no longer tolerates such “not totally prohibited but totally unauthorized” gray areas, which were Through which the interesting film industry is able to flourish in a limited way in China.”
For three consecutive years, Chinese independent films have won Tiger Awards at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR): Zhu Shengze’s present perfect in 2018; Kai Chengji widow witch in 2019; And Zhenglu Xinyuan’s The cloud is in her room In 2020. Kraicer jointly programmed these three films as trustee of IFFR, until a recent mass layoff led to his revocation of his position.
Cresser further suggested that medium to large budget Chinese films no longer need international festivals. “China has, since at least before Covid, developed into a self-sustaining system that combines local festivals, awards, marketing, promotion and ticket sales,” he said. “In fact, there is a negative incentive to premiere abroad, given the unexpected control of the Film Bureau over foreign festival screenings.”
The pandemic has no doubt caused production delays, but it has also affected the mindset of filmmakers. “Due to strict travel restrictions, Chinese filmmakers and actors are unable to attend international events, which is the same for Chinese media. They are not going to get the kind of hype and media coverage they used to get before Covid,” said Rediance’s Xie.
This partly explains why some Chinese filmmakers choose to premiere domestically at the Shanghai or Beijing film festivals, which may generate more publicity than abroad. This is also in line with the domestic focus set by the Chinese authorities, which aims to highlight local events, and to move away from foreign endorsement.
Once held twice a year, the Chinese Golden Rooster Awards have been turned into an annual event as of 2019 when Beijing began boycotting Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards, and last year the Best Foreign Language Film category was added to the Chinese nominees lineup. The Oscars have also been underestimated, with no TV broadcasts in China for the past two years.
At Cannes this year, Radiance is representing the short film by Argentinean director María Silvia Esteve IUD In two weeks for managers. This is part of the Chinese company’s ongoing efforts to diversify its portfolio, having co-produced Apichaptong Weerasethakul’s memoria And Anthony Chen The rainy season.