Director slams unwritten film censorship rules in mainland

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 January, 2013, 9:41pm

Mainland director Xie Fei made a scathing attack on film censorship, saying "unwritten rules" against taboo subjects in movies stifled the industry.

The 70-year-old filmmaker and Beijing Film Academy professor published an open letter on his Sina Weibo account on Saturday, appealing for the censors to be replaced by a proper film-rating system.

Xie showed his frustration by citing a film, on which he served as an artistic adviser, that was deemed "problematic" because it had gay characters and had scenes showing Lin Liguo, the son of disgraced ex-Communist leader Lin Biao , who was Mao Zedong's right-hand man.

The film, which Xie did not name, has been under review by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft) since August. It is about a girl who denounces Lin Liguo's way of choosing brides, and who falls in love with a male dancer who is gay.

"They said the film shows some frames of [the Lins], which … must be deleted," Xie said. "How can it be taboo 20 years after the 1992 film Zhou Enlai showed scenes of Lin Biao and Lin Liguo?"

The director also criticised unwritten bans against ghosts, homosexuality, time travel, adultery and sensitive political incidents. "An official from Sarft once told me that gays cannot be shown in films," Xie wrote in the letter.

"[These unwritten rules] demonstrate that the censorship system, which we have long wanted to terminate, is governed not by law, but by men," Xie wrote.

"If author Mo Yan had to … wait for advice and word-by-word, paragraph-by-paragraph amendments from administrative departments … could he have won a Nobel literature prize?" Xie said. His post soon drew support from several mainland filmmakers.



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