China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) has submitted the final version of its Film Promotion Law to the State Council and a film rating system may be implemented, according to sources from the ongoing 10th Seminar for Film
Directors from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The system, which will have a comparatively simple "two ratings", may offer some films that fail to meet mainland censorship requirements access to the Chinese mainland
The current system has a single rating and that has to be suitable for children of all ages
A total of 150 directors took part in the seminar.
A film rating system is very essential in China, Tong Gang, director of Motion Picture Bureau with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) was quoted as saying by a report on website of the Ministry of Culture.
A movie rating system in China has been discussed for years since the people have begun to enjoy an increasing number imported films and a booming domestic film market.
The director said the draft of the law had recently been finished and
was submitted by the SARFT to the State Council, China's cabinet. He did not reveal that whether the NPC's annual session this year would review or approve the draft law.
Tong said he had supported a movie rating system in China when he was
interviewed by a TV program in Singapore and he expressed a will to take Hong Kong's rating system as a reference during a visit to the SAR: However, my utterance has been overexplained and even distorted by some media reports. A rating system in
China will not mean that we will allow depictions of porn or violence in the movies for sales and screen.
Chinese censors will continue to insist that all films are suitable for kids
A movie rating system cannot be implemented at the present time, a Chinese official has said.
Zang Zengxiang, deputy director of the Beijing municipal bureau of radio, film and television, said the bureau has been researching the feasibility of a
movie rating system for several years. He said the research proved clearly that Beijing couldn't carry out a movie rating system for many reasons but he didn't explain any of them.
Audiences in the capital have grown used to spending their money
on censored movies. All domestic and foreign movies must be censored in order to receive public viewing licenses from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.
Movies that show numerous sexual or violent scenes undergo
large-scale deletions, an act that has been fiercely criticized as producing emasculated stories by some film industry insiders.
The fruitless struggle against censorship started in 2003 with the first movie rating proposal by Wang
Xingdong, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Li Yu, director of the Berlin Film Festival's nominated film Apple , which went through censorship a total of five times for its sex scenes, told METRO she never
believed a rating system could be implemented under the current cultural and economical environment: We refer to censorship as an 'iron' rule, meaning that no one can move or dodge it . She added that the absence of a rating system took away the
adult audience's right to watch adult scenes, and made it impossible to prevent younger moviegoers from seeing films with violence and sexual content.
China's film censor, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, said that an ongoing debate about a film classification system must end now and that China had no plans to introduce such a system as it was inappropriate.
We did a lot of investigation and research in both the overseas and domestic market, but decided that the movie classification system is not appropriate for the Chinese movie market currently, said Zhao Shi, vice minister of SARFT.
is developing its own way to maintain the management of the movie market in a legal, scientific and effective way, and this 'own way' would be more suitable for China's domestic conditions and the reform of China's movie business, she said.
Many in the film business had hoped that a film classification system would be introduced as it would diminish the need for censorship.
As it stands in China, all films have to be cut so as to be suitable for all ages.
The censorship process also takes a long time giving pirates ample time to flood the market with good DVD copies of the movie for impatient filmgoers.
China is planning even more repressive movie censorship to bar anti-government sentiments and messages of religious fanaticism from the screen, the government says.
The proposal, posted to the web site of the State Council. It is part of a draft
film law now under consideration that would raise to 13 the subject categories not allowed. Previous bans cover too much smoking on screen, explicit sex and graphic violence.
Under the proposals, China would bar incitement to resist or
undermine the constitution and the promotion of religious fanaticism from films. A further proposed ban would bar any film from promoting illegal drugs or terrorist activity.
Chinese film censors have been spouting about ludicrous reasons for cutting Titanic 3D.
Kate Winslet's famous bare-breasted life drawing scene has been censored in a bid to supposedly promote a harmonious ethical social environment
, according to China's State of Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) classification board. A SARFT official told Offbeat China:
Considering the vivid 3D effects, we fear that viewers may reach out
their hands for a touch and thus interrupt other people's viewing. To avoid potential conflicts between viewers and out of consideration of building a harmonious ethical social environment, we've decided to cut off the nudity scenes.
The nude scene was fully intact in the original Chinese screenings of the film in 1998.
Award-winning Chinese director Xie Fei has accused his country's censorship rules of killing artistic exploration in an open letter to authorities.
Xie, whose films include Woman Sesame Oil Maker , which won the Berlin Film
Festival's Golden Bear prize in 1993 - has not made a film since 2000. He urged censors to give clearer rules on banned topics. Xie wrote that China's system:
Long ago lost its real social, economic, ideological and
It has only become a corrupt black spot for controlling the prosperity of the cultural and entertainment industry, killing artistic exploration and wasting administrative resources.
his letter, Xie urged censors to:
Move from the current administrative review system to a rating system that allows for a self-governed and self-disciplined film industry, bound by legal restrictions and administrative
Currently, China has no film age rating system and films must be made suitable for all audiences. This means that many western films have been subject to cuts in order to be released. China also maintains a quota of just
20 foreign movies that can be shown in cinemas.
China is wrestling with how to reconcile its extreme censorship system with the need to create films the world will want to watch.
Xie Fei, a professor at the prestigious Beijing Film Academy, recently sparked a debate on government control
over the film industry when he called for replacing the country's censorship procedures by a movie rating system with ratings similar to those used in the United States. Xie wrote in an open letter:
In the past few
years, there were so many unwritten laws when censoring movies. Unwritten laws such as: 'ghosts are not allowed in contemporary settings,' 'extramarital affairs are not allowed,' 'certain political incidents are not allowed,' etc. The censorship system
[in China] is not defined by law, but done according to individuals.
Such rules are killing artistic exploration.
Beijing-based filmmaker Dayyan Eng responded saying that with more foreign films entering the
domestic market, local directors struggle to compete. He blames it partly on the censorship system.
It's [Censorship] restricting what we can make. And I think that everyone has been finding out, especially this year,
because the local films have been killed by Hollywood.
If Hollywood is allowed to make whatever they want, and actually most of them, the big budget ones anyway, are being shown in China, we are at a disadvantage because the
system that's in place to regulate or censor this things is not the same for Chinese films and for Hollywood films.
Eng's latest film, Inseparable , was the first wholly local production to feature a Hollywood star, Kevin
Spacey. Eng says the censorship system influenced the way he wrote his movie.
When I first started out doing the story and writing the script and even up to shooting and editing it, in a way I have to censor myself a
little bit. For example, there would be certain scenes I want to do, but I would think 'Maybe it is not going to pass the censorship if I do it this way, if I go too far' so I tend to pull myself back little bit.
lawmakers recognize that domestic films are facing increasing pressure to compete with foreign films, they did not directly respond to Xie Fei's suggestions that a US-style rating system was better than China's censorship rules.
surfaced in 2007, after nude scenes in the Ang Lee film Lust Caution were cut before the film's release in China. But censors put an end to the idea when a senior official from SARFT said that such a system would not be appropriate for
But now, with a growing number of actors, directors and producers sharing their views online, it has become easier for critical voices to contribute to the national discussion. Film producer Robert Cain has consulted Hollywood and Chinese
studios on co-productions since 1987. He says that by not establishing a rating system, the Chinese government is patronizing its public:
There is no need to treat everyone in China like a child or an infant that can
be hurt by certain topics in movies. Everyone knows that people have sex, everyone knows that crime takes place and it seems very hypocritical to me that the government wants to pretend, at least in films, that these things don't happen in China.
A Shanghai People's Congress delegate called on the local government to institute a film ratings system after complaints arose about a popular Chinese movie released earlier this month.
The Hong Kong-directed film Journey to the West:
Conquering the Demons , has drawn the ire of parents and media critics due to several scenes, including one in which humans were roasted alive in a cooking pot.
Some children complained about feeling sick to the stomach after watching the
scenes, according to a news report on Shanghai Television Station.
Delegate Li Ming submitted a proposal last year suggesting that the local government create a ratings system that could serve as a model for the rest of the country. However,
authorities did not directly reply to his proposal.
Local authorities could create a rating system based on those in Hong Kong or the US, said Shi Chuan, a professor of film studies at Shanghai University:
with ratings for violent and pornographic content, the system should also define other issues such as ethnic jokes, which might spark disputes over ethnic discrimination in China.
Chinese national film censors at SARFT turned down the
idea of rating films in 2010.
China's film censor is planning to decentralize the censorship process for local movies, granting bureaus in the provinces the power to censor films.
As it stands, filmmakers face lengthy waiting periods for approval of their movies from the Film
Bureau in Beijing (SARFT), which is part of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
The move is due to happen in April and is limited to local films. The censorship of imported Hollywood films, and
co-productions with international firms, will remain under the control of the central Film Bureau in Beijing.
SARFT will retain responsibility for the censorship of national films, for censoring movies produced by central government and military
film production companies, and the censorship of imported films and co-productions with overseas firms. It will also be responsible for reviewing the films that are censored by the provincial bureaus, responsible for handling the film release license and
responsible for the censorship of the film if the film production company has some objections to the decision..
China has approved for cinema release the first film with gay principal characters. Film director Wanga nnounced on Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, that censors had given Seek McCartney permission for a cinema release. He said:
This is a small step for the film department, and a big step for the members of the film industry.
The film, a Chinese-French co-production, centres on a secret relationship between two men, one Chinese and one
Fan Popo, an LGBT filmmaker and rights activist was note entirely convinced that this is a policy change. He told AFP:
The fact that this film can be released in theatres doesn't mean gay films in the
future will be able to released in China. China's system for evaluating films is still very unstable, because the rules are very unclear. It depends heavily on the individual censor's whims.
China is set to pass another film censorship law mandating morality standards for film makers
China will soon enact a new film censorship law banning content relating to preaching terrorism and mandating clearance of a film by three 'experts' and also demanding that film personalities abide by morality standards.
The law is currently
being reviewed by China's legislature the National People's Congress (NPC). According to the bill, people working in the movie industry, including actors and directors, should strive for excellence in both professional skills and moral integrity, and build good public images.
The draft law also stresses that film distribution companies and cinemas should not fabricate movie screenings and ticket sales or take other improper means. This followed reports that Chinese film firms tried to inflate revenues with fake shows
to inflate box office earnings to claim success.
The new law requires that films shall not contain any content preaching terrorism and extremism, and films shall be reviewed by at least three 'experts'.
Trigger warnings should be given to
viewers, if films contain materials that might cause psychological or physical discomfort to viewers, such as minors.
China has passed a new film censorship law mopping up a few more prohibitions somehow overlooked by previous censorship laws.
the law bans content deemed harmful to the dignity, honour and interests of the People's Republic and encouraging the
promotion of socialist core values .
The law claims that its aim is to spread core socialist values , enrich the masses' spiritual and cultural life, and set ground rules for the industry.
The law further forbids content that
criticised the law or constitution, harms national unity, sovereignty or territorial integrity, exposes national secrets, harms Chinese security, dignity, honour or interests, or spreads terrorism or extremism. Also banned are subjects that defame the
people's excellent cultural traditions , incite ethnic hatred or discrimination or destroy ethnic unity.
It is also illegal for Chinese firms to hire or partner with overseas productions deemed to have views harmful to China's dignity,
honour and interests, harm social stability or hurt the feelings of the Chinese people .
Films must not violate the country's religious policies, spread cults, or superstitions , insult or slander people.
China's media censor is being taken to court over its view that homosexual activities are abnormal.
Following a crackdown on showing homosexuality in the country's media, a Beijing court has made the unusual move of accepting a legal challenge brought
by a member of the public.
In the unlikely event that Fan Chunlin wins his case, China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) would be forced to publicly clarify a regulation banning gay sex.
China's courts, the media and the SAPPRFT all controlled by the ruling communist party, the chances of Fan winning the case are small. However, Fan's lawyer, Tang Xiangqian, said that he hoped that the legal challenge will raise awareness of rights for
homosexual people in the country.
A decision on the case is expected within six months.
For a long time in China there have been numerous censorship rules about storylines that could or could not appear in films. Stories with magical elements were strictly limited to taking place during ancient times, modern horror films depicting seemingly
supernatural elements had to explain by the end of the film that the ghosts were just hallucinations or tricks setup by crazed killers, exceedingly bloody or violent scenes were nowhere to be seen.
The entire process of getting a film made was
also once strictly supervised at every step of the way from the beginning of production all the way to right before a film hit theaters. But 2017 provided some hints that things are relaxing in the Chinese mainland.
In March of 2017, the
government introduced the China Film Industry Promotion Law. One aspect of this new law has been to make it easier for films to start production. According to new regulations films that do not touch upon national security, diplomacy, ethnic minorities,
religion, the military and other sensitive subjects, no longer need to hand in their scripts for approval prior to shooting.
A few example storylines have already surfaced that would not have been made a couple of years ago. In Hanson and the
Beast , for example. The film takes place in modern times, yet tells the story of a zoo keeper who encounters and falls in love with a fox spirit. Many Chinese filmgoers were surprised to see spirits and demons straight out of Chinese legends
depicted as living in modern China. The film does spend a few minutes of sci-fi hand-waving to explain why these fantasy creatures from Chinese legends actually exist.
Another example is the upcoming animated dark comedy Have a Nice Day ,
contains explicit violent imagery in its depiction of criminal gang activity. The film was selected to compete for the Golden Bear Award at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival last year, but many moviegoers in China thought that the film wouldn't
see a release in its original form since it depicted the dark side of Chinese society. The film wasn't quite in its original form though as a few lines of dialogue were censored.
Perhaps China has realised that highly sanitised films are no good
for selling to the west.
Christopher Robin is a 2018 USA children's musical by Marc Forster. Starring Hayley Atwell, Ewan McGregor and Chris O'Dowd.
The Children's film Christopher Robin has been banned by Chinese film censors. No reason was given for the
denial, but a source pinned the blame on China's crusade against images of the Winnie the Pooh character, which is widely used as a mocking representation of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Last summer, authorities began blocking pictures of
Winnie the Pooh on social media when bloggers drew comparisons between the pudgy bear and Xi, which has put the country's censors in overdrive. In June, Chinese authorities blocked HBO after Last Week Tonight host John Oliver mocked Xi's sensitivity over
being compared to Winnie the Pooh.
The Hidden Sword is a 2017 China action drama by Haofeng Xu. Starring Qing Xu, Jue Huang and Aoyue Zhang.
Latest film of Xu Haofeng, a new master of Chinese
Wu Xia films, screenwriter of Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster. The new film tells a Chinese Wu Xia story happened in 1930s, but with a new presentation.
Long-awaited martial-arts film The Hidden Sword announced Monday that its
theatrical release this Friday in China has been cancelled, presumably the latest casualty of a censorship campaign that is damaging the country's box office.
The Chinese film censors had granted the film at least enough permission to appear at
international film festivals and it won awards at Montreal and Taiwan.
However the censors seemed to get cold feet at the domestic premiere. It was banned just 4 days before its premiere.
Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood is a 2019 USA / UK comedy drama by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie.
Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their
way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. The ninth film from the writer-director features a large ensemble cast and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood's golden age.
A few days ago the
Chinese cinema release of Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood was cancelled with just a week's notice. The film censors banned the film but did not given any explanation of the reason why.
Tarantino, who is known to be opposed to
any kind of tinkering with his films and has final-cut rights included in his contract, has no plans to bring his film back to the editing bay, especially given that China has offered no explanation for what is objectionable in the film that revolves
around the events leading up to the infamous Manson Family murders of 1969.
The decision to halt the release is speculated to be about Tarantino's portrayal of the late martial arts hero Bruce Lee, who was of Chinese descent. It seems that Bruce
Lee's daughter, Shannon Lee, made a direct appeal to China's National Film Administration, asking that it demand changes to her father's portrayal. Friends and family of the Hollywood action star have criticized Tarantino for his portrayal of Lee, saying
it doesn't resemble the real-life man and is instead a caricature.
Another source suggested that China may finally be balking at the film's violence, which is graphic at times but far less than a typical Tarantino film. However there are reports
that the film had actually been approved and that the something must have happened to change the censor's mind.
One of China's longest-running independent film festivals has decided to shut down against the backdrop of mounting government censorship.
The China International Film Festival (CIFF) announced:
We believe that
under current local organizational conditions it is impossible to organize an effective film festival that has a pure, independent spirit.
The CIFF was founded in the eastern city of Nanjing in 2003 and has been staged 14 times. It
had screened films on sensitive subjects such as homosexuality and controversies surrounding the massive Three Gorges Dam project in central China.
Hong Kong's South China Morning Post quoted Zhang Xianmin, a Beijing Film Academy professor and the
festival's key organizer, as saying the shutdown takes China back to a more restricted era for film. Zhang added:
We just went back to 20 years ago, when there was no room and opportunity for independent films.