Beijing defends ban on film directors

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 April, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 April, 1994, 12:00am

CHINA has defended its outright ban on seven young film directors, saying the move was necessary to ''correct wrong-doing in the film industry''.

The Ministry of Radio, Film and Television said the ban, issued on March 12, resulted from the directors' ''illegal participation'' in the Rotterdam Film Festival in February.

Apart from Tian Zhuangzhuang's Blue Kite, which failed to pass the official censor, the directors' films had been sent to Rotterdam without going to the censor and were thus ''illegal'', the ministry said.

A ministry official, Yan Xiaoming, said if independent film-makers wanted the public to see their movies then they should go through ''normal channels'' and not try to circumvent government organisations by sending their work direct to foreign film festivals.

Mr Yan stressed that the ministry was not attempting to limit artistic expression and would ''strongly support'' experimental film-makers as long as they remained within the law.

But a Beijing film critic said: ''Why, if they claim to support the film industry, are they banning the work of seven of the country's best young directors? It simply doesn't make sense.'' ''The real reason is obvious. They don't like the movies or the movie makers and this business with the Rotterdam Film Festival is just an excuse to crack down on them,'' he added.

The wording of the notice put out by the ministry last month announcing the ban on Tian Zhaungzhuang, Zhang Yuan, Wu Wenguang, Wang Xiaoshi, He Jianjun, Dai Ning and the Structure, Wave, Youth and Film group, does appear to be aimed more at punishment than ''rectification''.

It states: ''Any units which discover the participation of the above-mentioned film-makers in the production of a film, television programme or video must dismiss them, otherwise approval for the film will be withdrawn.'' The ban has left the seven directors in limbo and sent a chill through the industry.

''It's outrageous,'' said Zhang Yuan, director of Beijing Bastards.

''It's like telling me I can't eat or sleep.''