A Chinese film-maker is to sue state censors in a quest to discover how and why his gay-themed documentary was removed from local streaming sites, in a legal case that could have powerful ramifications for film censorship in the country.
Fan Popo says
his documentary Mama Rainbow , which follows six Chinese mothers as they learn to love their gay or lesbian children, disappeared without explanation from video sites such as Youku, Tudou and 56.com in 2014.
The director had uploaded the
documentary to keep it in the public eye after his film completed its short run at US and Asian film festivals in 2012. So he was disappointed when 56.com managers informed him that China's censor SARFT, the State Administration of Radio, Film and
Television, had issued the company with instructions to remove the movie.
SARFT censors later officially denied having any involvement in censorship of Mama Rainbow, so Fan has decided to sue the censor in the Beijing court in an effort to find
out what really happened.
Last week, state-backed newspaper Global Times confirmed the case would be heard -- a victory in itself in China's government-controlled courts.
Update: Not us!
30th December 2015.
See article from shanghaiist.com
Beijing-based filmmaker Fan Popo, whose gay rights documentary was removed from Chinese video streaming websites, has claimed victory in a lawsuit over government censorship despite the courts ruling that regulators were not to blame.
verdict released last week, Beijing's No. 1 Intermediate People's Court found censors had not ordered his documentary Mama Rainbow to be taken down from prominent streaming websites Youku, Tudou and 56.com.
Prior to filing the lawsuit, Fan
had been told by two of the major streaming platforms that they had received a document from SAPPRFT ordering the removal of the film. He filed a request in February for information from the regulator, but they denied ever releasing such a document. Fan
told the Wall Street Journal:
I hope that my case can serve as catalyst to inspire more people to stand up against SAPPRFT for content we care about.
The verdict still poses the question as to who,
if anyone, ordered his film to be taken offline. Fan said:
I still think the verdict is to my advantage, because now knowing the agency did not release any document, I can require the video sites to put my film back.