Director faces ban over Cannes entry

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 May, 2006, 12:00am

Director Lou Ye could be banned from making movies on the mainland for five years for allowing his controversial film Summer Palace to compete in the Cannes Film Festival without the state censor's approval.

Zhou Jiandong , director of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television's film bureau, told the Shenzhen Evening News that the crew 'would definitely' be punished.

The film has captured international headlines because of its backdrop of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests and its explicit sex scenes.

The report - posted on Xinhua's website yesterday - said that under regulations introduced in 2002, candidates running in overseas film competitions and exhibitions without approval would not be allowed to take part in any filming activities for five years.

Last night, Fang Li, one of the film's producers, appeared resigned when asked about the ban.

'I hope we don't have to go through this. But we haven't received any official notice, so we don't know exactly how it will turn out,' he said.

Mainland journalists in Cannes said that on Thursday, the day the film premiered, their media organisations received a notice from Communist Party propaganda chiefs telling them not to report anything on it, despite the film being the only Asian entry in the race for the prestigious Palme d'Or.

One of the journalists said: 'This is frustrating, but I'm not surprised. It's a pity because the film's main audience is Chinese. Everything I wrote can't be used. Even TV footage of the red carpet and press conference can't be shown.'

In 2000, Lou was banned from making films for two years after he sent his acclaimed Suzhou River to compete at festivals overseas without approval. The film bureau said it turned down the application to enter this year's Cannes competition over 'technical problems'.

If Summer Palace made more than 20,000 yuan profit in the competition, it could be fined up to 10 times that amount, the report said.