Chinese director Lou Ye (娄烨）has run afoul of the censors at the Film Bureau for submitting his film Summer Palace (颐和园）to the Cannes Film Festival without the government’s approval. Those of you familiar with the rules of the game know that this not only gets you on the blacklist, it prevents your film from getting shown in the theaters in China. However, the more we read about this situation the more confused we get.
We thought that the problem was with the fact that there was nudity, sex and the backdrop of certain events that happened between the third and fifth of the month after May in the year before 1990. We assumed that what the censors asked was to cut out much of the offensive material, giving Lou Ye no choice but to refuse them and send it off to Cannes without government blessing.
But then we saw yet another report in the Chinese media where Fang Li, one of the movie’s producers, said that even they, the producers, were not aware that the film had been submitted to Cannes. Fang said that their foreign distributors (French to be exact) had sent certain clips and unfinished cuts to Cannes, which accepted the film based on what they’d seen. Plausible as this sounds, we think it strange that the distributors would go behind the filmmakers’ backs and that the Cannes folks were completely oblivious to the issues associated with a film like this.
What we know for a fact is that the film was shown to the media at Cannes on Wednesday and is slated for a premiere on Thursday. From what reports we have seen, it looks like that the director will stay in Cannes (rather than being sent home on a plane to Beijing where he will be grounded and not be allowed to eat dinner) and that the movie will show, but it looks like we’ll have to wait until the smoke clears to figure this one out.
From this Hollywood Reporter review, the movie definitely sounds interesting and provocative, something that Shanghaiist has come to expect from Lou Ye, even if we don’t like all of his films (with apologies to the Zhang-Ziyi-in-Purple-Butterfly fans out there).
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