Tyranny tips its hand

China, the disequilibrating great nation on the rise in geo—politics, wants to be regarded as a normal nation. Not a brutal dictatorship riven by corruption and kept in power by force. Hosting the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 is regarded as a turning point, and every effort is being made to spiff up the country, physically and reputationally.

China's film industry has enjoyed growing recognition as an artistic force worldwide. This is both a great asset to the regime's image, and also a matter of pride for all Chinese, but particularly the urban affluent classes.

But bureaucrats nurtured by a tyranny have their own way of thinking. Accordingly, China is about to inflict a black eye on itself, all to no avail. China Challenges brought my attention to this item from the South China Morning Post via UCLA.

 The director of Asia's only hope of winning the Palme d'Or this year is expected to withdraw his movie Summer Palace from the Cannes Film Festival's competition after it failed to win the approval of the mainland's censors yesterday.

Organisers selected the film by mainland director Lou Ye for the competition but Beijing requires all films competing abroad to be vetted by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft).

The bureaucrats no doubt think they are really clever. here is what they are doing:

Sarft's film bureau review committee said it turned down the application to compete for the Palme d'Or on form rather than content. "It has technical problems," a bureau production officer said.

Summer Palace producer Nai An said the claims of problems with the film's light and sound quality were "ridiculous" and "unexpected" given the acclaim for Lou's thriller, Suzhou River.

"We are all surprised. It's an insult to Lou and his film crew," she said. "It's hard to decide whether the content is the real reason."

She said the bureau found fault with the beta—tape copy it had reviewed and had since requested the production company to submit a film copy for scrutiny.

So what is it about Summer Palace that has the censors at work?

[it] traces the relationship of a young couple separated by the 1989 pro—democracy demonstrations and is the first mainland production to tackle the subject.

So it is a romance set against a time of turmoil. A very sensitive bit of turmoil. They think they can get people to forget about it?

The censorship applies only to the official competition. The film can still be screened, and probably will be shown in the unofficial competition at Cannes. But now it has buzz as the film China doesn't want you to see.

You can't buy that kind of publicity.

Thomas Lifson   5 19 06

China, the disequilibrating great nation on the rise in geo—politics, wants to be regarded as a normal nation. Not a brutal dictatorship riven by corruption and kept in power by force. Hosting the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 is regarded as a turning point, and every effort is being made to spiff up the country, physically and reputationally.

China's film industry has enjoyed growing recognition as an artistic force worldwide. This is both a great asset to the regime's image, and also a matter of pride for all Chinese, but particularly the urban affluent classes.

But bureaucrats nurtured by a tyranny have their own way of thinking. Accordingly, China is about to inflict a black eye on itself, all to no avail. China Challenges brought my attention to this item from the South China Morning Post via UCLA.

 The director of Asia's only hope of winning the Palme d'Or this year is expected to withdraw his movie Summer Palace from the Cannes Film Festival's competition after it failed to win the approval of the mainland's censors yesterday.

Organisers selected the film by mainland director Lou Ye for the competition but Beijing requires all films competing abroad to be vetted by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft).

The bureaucrats no doubt think they are really clever. here is what they are doing:

Sarft's film bureau review committee said it turned down the application to compete for the Palme d'Or on form rather than content. "It has technical problems," a bureau production officer said.

Summer Palace producer Nai An said the claims of problems with the film's light and sound quality were "ridiculous" and "unexpected" given the acclaim for Lou's thriller, Suzhou River.

"We are all surprised. It's an insult to Lou and his film crew," she said. "It's hard to decide whether the content is the real reason."

She said the bureau found fault with the beta—tape copy it had reviewed and had since requested the production company to submit a film copy for scrutiny.

So what is it about Summer Palace that has the censors at work?

[it] traces the relationship of a young couple separated by the 1989 pro—democracy demonstrations and is the first mainland production to tackle the subject.

So it is a romance set against a time of turmoil. A very sensitive bit of turmoil. They think they can get people to forget about it?

The censorship applies only to the official competition. The film can still be screened, and probably will be shown in the unofficial competition at Cannes. But now it has buzz as the film China doesn't want you to see.

You can't buy that kind of publicity.

Thomas Lifson   5 19 06