Perils of censorship no Mystery for director Lou Ye
Censors approved the film's entry in the Cannes Film Festival when Beijing officials at the last minute ordered two violent scenes near the end to be cut before its mainland release
Mainland film censorship is just like the title of the Asian Film Awards' best film winner Mystery, says its director Lou Ye, who believes that the system must go or it will remain an obstacle to the development of Chinese cinema.
He said the censors had approved the film's entry in the Cannes Film Festival when Beijing officials at the last minute ordered two violent scenes near the end to be cut before its mainland release.
"Change is a must, because [the censorship system] does not suit the Chinese film industry any more. It is an obstacle to Chinese cinema development," the acclaimed director said.
Mystery, which tells a story of a woman's discovery of her husband's extra-marital affairs turning into violence in Wuhan , won best screenwriter and best newcomer alongside the top prize at Monday night's Asian Film Awards.
It is Lou's seventh feature, but only his first to be released on the mainland in a decade.
He was handed a five-year ban on filmmaking on the mainland after he entered Summer Palace, a heart-wrenching drama touching on the Tiananmen Square bloodshed, in the Cannes festival in 2006 without authorisation.
One of the so-called Sixth Generation of mainland filmmakers, who earned international acclaim with his 2000 drama Suzhou River, Lou said he did not expect to win big with Mystery. He still felt the pain of his bout with censors over the film's mainland release, he said.
"I deliberately removed my name [from the film's credits]. It was my way to protest," he said.
The State Administration of Radio, Film & Television had approved it for entry in the Cannes Un Certain Regard section when the Beijing Municipal Film Bureau ordered the two scenes to be removed.
Lou went onto a weibo website, the mainland's social media platform, in protest. He won wide public support, but eventually the scenes - three seconds and 23 frames - were removed as it was too late to re-edit the film.
"There was a dialogue. The communication was satisfactory. It was heading a good direction. But I have regrets," he said.
Though the final release on the mainland was not perfect, Lou said he hoped his film reflected the problems facing modern China. "It is a common problem facing the middle class. After acquiring wealth, their life situation changes. People then become very selfish. They only live for their personal interests and do not care about others," he said.
Lou is working on a feature about a blind masseur in Nanjing . Filming is almost complete and will soon go into post-production. He hopes the film will open in his homeland this year.