Director Reveals Mystery of China’s Film Censorship

Exasperated by the long and tangled process of gaining official approval for his latest movie, Mystery, director Lou Ye took to Sina Weibo to describe what was going on, and ultimately removed his own name from the credits in protest. From Tea Leaf Nation:

Over twenty days from September 8 to 26, Lou tweeted his negotiation process with SARFT [the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television]. At one point, Lou tweeted,

“I’m waiting for an answer: Can the film be released on time without any changes, yes or no? The answer is so simple but so difficult–[the process] makes me feel disappointed and sad, but I also feel a sense of understanding and support. China’s domestic film industry needs everyone to work together. I totally accept the fact that I’m a director in the age of film censorship. I just want a dialogue [with the authorities], and a dialogue is not a confrontation. There are no winners and losers in a dialogue. There are no enemies.”

[…] Lou’s exposure of the inner workings of China’s film censorship process and bold gesture attracted support from other filmmakers, artists, and average netizens in China. Another director named Zhang Jiangnan (@张江南导演) commented, “Every time I looked at my films after censorship, I thought about removing my name, but I can never be as resolute as Lou Ye. I keep a ‘director’s cut’ for myself to make me feel better. To tell the truth, it’s about getting used to eating [expletive]…” A film critic named Han Houye (@韩浩月) commented, “Lou’s removal of his name as director is like a hunger strike on the street.”

See more on SARFT and censorship via CDT, including a speech by writer Murong Xuecun on the “absurdities” of Chinese censorship.