Rebel director Lou Ye gets Cannes okay

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 April, 2012, 12:00am


Lou Ye, the Chinese director twice banned for screening his work at overseas film festivals without securing official approval, is expected to appear at the Cannes Film Festival next month with his first officially sanctioned film in nine years.

Financed by his production outfit, Dream Factory, and the French company Les Films du Lendemain, Mystery will premiere in the festival's A Certain Regard section. It will be Lou's first Chinese production since receiving a five-year filmmaking ban in 2006 for submitting his film Summer Palace to Cannes without an all-clear from mainland censors.

The filming of Mystery, set in Wuhan, Hubei, received the green light from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

But it is yet to be seen whether the censors approve the final product - and whether officials consider its story, about a sacked policeman's investigation into a powerful businessman's role in a woman's death, to be too close to the recent high-profile Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun scandal for comfort.

Lou's last film to receive official approval from state censors was 2003's Purple Butterfly, starring international film star Zhang Ziyi .

While the censors never explained why they refused Lou's Summer Palace a screening licence in 2006, critics have pointed to the film's depiction of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989 as a likely reason for the official disapproval.

Lou had already incurred the censors' wrath with his first film, 1995's Weekend Lover, which remains banned on the mainland today. He was banned from making films for two years after screening his second film, Suzhou River, at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2000 without getting consent.

Lou still made two films during his latest ban: Spring Fever, a wasted-youth romance that won the best-screenplay prize at Cannes in 2009, and Love and Bruises.

Lou circumvented the ban by registering Spring Fever as a Hong Kong-French production, while Love and Bruises was made with French funds.