Zu Feng’s Summer of Changsha has become the third Chinese movie to be removed from a major international festival this year, after an official announcement on the film’s Weibo account stated it was withdrawing from all Cannes events due to “technical issues”.
There was no further elaboration on what the “technical issues” might be, but the suspicions of many commentators fell on politics as the real reason for the abrupt cancellation of the film’s screening. The movie was originally slated to appear as part of Cannes’ “Un Certain Regard” official selection.
Here’s the trailer, which appears fairly free of “technical issues”…
“If the general public relations activities of the country need to control whether films participate in [international] film festivals, as a movie fan, I say it shows the cowardice of the country,” runs a top-rated comment under the announcement on microblogging platform Sina Weibo. “The real strong man is not afraid of the wolves, nor of the poisonous snakes. I just hope that this kind of behavior will not affect the future of Chinese movies going abroad.”
That last sentence, at least, is a sentiment many would agree with. Unfortunately, it seems Variety’s take that we included in our Chinese films at Cannes preview was depressingly prophetic: “[Chinese films] appear to have received the necessary official approvals from Chinese authorities to premiere overseas. But their journey to the Cote d’Azur is by no means a certainty.”
A Quick Guide to the Chinese Films Going to the 2019 Cannes Festival
Zu’s movie aims to explore lust and the dark side of humanity via the tale of a criminal investigation and a deep betrayal. It now joins Zhang Yimou’s One Second, a film set amid the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, and Derek Kwok-cheung Tsang’s disaffected youth drama Better Days in being withdrawn suddenly from international competition due to “technical reasons” in 2019. Zhang and Tsang’s films disappeared without warning from this year’s Berlinale in February.
Update: On the afternoon of Wednesday 22 May (France time), Chinese movie site MTime posted to their official Weibo account that they had “just watched Summer of Changsha in Cannes. The film’s main talents did not participate in the screening and there was no ‘dragon mark’ [the mark of the Chinese government that precedes all official China movie releases]. There was clear evidence of cuts toward the end. No idea what the future of this film will be..”
The Wild Goose Lake, the noirish new film from director Diao Yinan (responsible for Black Coal, Thin Ice) did at least screen in Cannes this week. The film is competing for the 2019 Palme d’Or.
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