8/24/14, "Film festival crackdown in China," AP via TVOne, New Zealand TV
"Chinese authorities on Saturday blocked an annual independent film
festival from opening, seized documents and films from its organizers'
office and hauled away two event officials. The move against a rare
venue where films critical of the government could be screened is seen
as a sign that Beijing is stepping up its already tight ideological
Li Xianting, a film critic and founder of the Li Xianting Film Fund,
the organizer of the Beijing Independent Film Festival, said police
searched his office and confiscated materials he had gathered over more
than 10 years. Mr Li and the festival's artistic director, Wang Hongwei,
were later detained by police, according to their supporters.
The festival, which began in 2006, has seen severe police obstruction
over the past few years, but this year's crackdown is far more serious,
Wang said earlier Saturday.
"In the past few years when they forced us to cancel the festival, we
just moved it to other places, or delayed the screenings," he said.
"But this year, we cannot carry on with the festival. It is completely
Over the past week, Mr Li posted memos saying government security
personnel were pressuring him to cancel the festival, and that he had
come under police surveillance.
The shutdown is a sign that Beijing is tightening ideological
controls under President Xi Jinping, said Chris Berry, professor of film
studies at King's College London in England.
"It's very clear that the Xi Jinping regime is determined to control
the ideological realm, which has not been emphasized so much for a long
time," he said....
Hu Jie, a movie director who traveled from the eastern city of Nanjing to attend the festival, was upset at the cancellation.
"The audience for my films is already quite small, perhaps because I
make documentaries that talk about history," Mr Hu said. "If one of the
rare film festivals, like the Beijing Independent Film festival, is shot
down, then it will be very difficult for us to survive as filmmakers."...
In 2012, electricity was cut off shortly after the festival opened,
but organizers still managed to show some new movies. Last year, the
festival went on, although public screenings were banned.
In the memos that he posted, Mr Li said police put him and the fund's
office under surveillance Aug. 18, when this year's festival's poster
and schedule were released online.
He said local authorities initially agreed to a compromise that the
festival be moved to a town farther out in neighboring Hebei province,
but that the management of the hotel where reservations had been made
informed the fund on Friday that police were not allowing it to host the
Mr Li said the festival's executive director, Fan Rong, and Wang were
taken away by Songzhuang police on Friday afternoon and forced to sign a
letter of promise to cancel the festival, before being freed five hours
later. He said employees of the film fund were also informed that the
electricity to the office would be cut off starting Saturday."
8/23/14, "China's Beijing Independent Film Festival shut down," BBC
"The Chinese government keeps a tight control on information and the
media - and is suspicious of independent films that could contain
criticism of the Communist party and its policies, says BBC World
Service Asia analyst Charles Scanlon.
President Xi Jinping has stepped up repression of government
critics since coming to office, our correspondent says, with the arrest
of hundreds of bloggers."...(end of article)
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