Who's doing the censoring, exactly?

A sexy scene from Curiosity Kills the Cat

The fate of the new movie Curiosity Kills the Cat (好奇害死猫) was in limbo recently after negatives were confiscated when it was discovered that some of the film's sex scenes may have stepped over the line.

Par for the course in Chinese media regulation, right? Except that instead of the watchdogs at SARFT laying down the law, it was one Mr. Zhao, an employee at the Beijing Film Developing and Printing & Video Laboratory, who refused to print the film or return the negatives.

Yesterday's Mirror reports:

Zhou Dequn, director of the Beijing Film Lab, had this reaction: "Mr. Zhao was bitten by a snake and has had a fear of ropes for a decade." According to Zhou, ten years ago Mr. Zhao was punished by the China Film Bureau over a similar matter, so everyone is a bit jumpy.

Hu Qiming [Cat's producer] summarized the affair, saying that on the eighth of last month, an employee of the Beijing Film Lab reported that Curiosity Kills the Cat was in violation, as the film contained a large number of explicit scenes. Because of this, they decided to act as gatekeepers in place of SARFT and immediately halted all development and printing work on the movie.

When informed of the situation, Zhang Hongsen, vice-director of the Film Bureau at SARFT, said that he had never heard of anything like this before. He sent a fax to the Beijing Film Lab, "consenting" to development and printing; Beijing Film Lab employees felt that the fax might be faked. The producers requested that they return the negatives, but they refused, saying that the Film Bureau had "regulations" prohibiting negatives and other materials from being taken out of the facility.

Subsequently, Zhang Hongsen notified director Zhou Dequn that Curiosity Kills the Cat had indeed passed review. On 15 August, the producers and the Beijing Film Lab signed an agreement dissolving their contract and moved processing work to the Shanghai Film Lab.

But the affair, which ought to have been concluded, returned anew on 25 August. It turned out that when handing over the negatives and other materials to the producers, Mr. Zhao had retained those scenes he felt were "in violation," explaining that this was "for safekeeping."

The situation was resolved on 1 September after discussions between the producers and the lab, so Cat, which stars Hu Jun, Carina Lau, and Song Jia, should still hit theaters in mid-October. The two sides also arrived at the following recommendation:

The Film Bureau should clarify the question of power and responsibilities. For example, if the contents of a film are not in accordance with requests, the processing employees themselves have no responsibility. The punishment Mr. Zhao suffered ten years ago should not happen again.

In more official censorship business, SARFT announced on Friday that it was disciplining director Lou Ye for taking his film Summer Palace to the Cannes festival without prior approval. Lou, together with producer Nai An, will be banned from filmmaking for five years under a 2002 regulation requiring certification before films may be screened [for competitions or festivals] outside of the country.

Yesterday's Mirror report did not reveal whether there will be a fine in addition to the ban; regulations allow for fines between 5 and 10 times illicit proceeds, and between 20,000 and 100,000 yuan for violations that do not make much money. As of the time of this post, only the Mirror and Nanning Evening News have reports on the matter, according to a Baidu news search.

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There are currently 2 Comments for Who's doing the censoring, exactly?.

Comments on Who's doing the censoring, exactly?

Good to see Hu Jun's returning to film. The TV shows he's been in over the past few years have been pretty crap.

this is very unnapropiaee!

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