Zhang Yimou’s ‘One Second’ Pulled From China’s Golden Rooster Festival

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Zhang Yimou’s “One Second” has been pulled from China’s Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Movie Festival, the place it had been given pleasure of place because the opening movie. Political sensitivity over historic occasions, as soon as once more, seems to have led to the choice.

That is the second time that “One Second” has been yanked by Chinese language authorities from a distinguished slot at a serious pageant. In February 2019, it was eliminated at quick discover from the Berlin Movie Festival, the place it had been scheduled to play in competitors.

It’s also the second yr in succession that the Golden Rooster Festival has misplaced its opening movie at quick discover. Final yr, Lou Ye’s “Saturday Fiction” was pulled from the lineup the day earlier than opening. The Gong Li-starrer nonetheless hasn’t acquired a theatrical launch in China, although final yr it premiered in Venice and performed a number of different autumn festivals in Europe.

Zhang’s Sixties-set film depicts an escaped prisoner and an orphan woman who steals a newsreel containing the one second of footage that the person desperately desires to see. Zhang had framed the story as his tribute to cinema. The movie is ready throughout Mao Zedong’s 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, when intellectuals and center lessons have been despatched to the countryside for pressured reeducation. The ruling Communist Occasion has acknowledged that the interval was an financial and social catastrophe, however it stays a extremely delicate topic.

Details about “One Second” and its Golden Rooster fall-out first appeared in a Weibo posting by Zhang’s spouse. Festival sources subsequently confirmed the information in a brief publish that stated the movie was to get replaced with a screening of a brand new version of 2019 sci-fi hit “The Wandering Earth.”

“In keeping with official discover, the opening movie for the showcase of nationwide productions at China Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Movie Festival has been modified. Zhang Yimou’s ‘One Second’ has been changed by ‘Wandering Earth’ 2020 particular version. The particular screening of ‘One Second’ on Nov. 25 has additionally been canceled,” the notification stated.

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A discover from the Golden Rooster Festival
Golden Rooster Movie Festival

Sources near the manufacturing advised Selection that the one rationalization they acquired for the movie’s withdrawal was “technical causes,” which could be interpreted as a euphemism for censorship. It’s also the identical cause offered in Berlin, greater than 18 months earlier.

Understanding the specifics of the issue is murky. Earlier than he started taking pictures, Zhang needed to acquire approval from the China Movie Bureau for the screenplay. The movie additionally acquired the so-called Dragon Seal, indicating that it had cleared censorship, earlier than going to Berlin.

There was additionally speak on the time that the movie had didn’t safe the required permission to journey to an abroad pageant, although this can be a distraction from the bigger challenge. Whereas Zhang was making the film, duty for the movie trade shifted to a brand new regulator that reported on to the ministry of propaganda. The Nationwide Movie Administration has been extra interventionist than its predecessor, the State Administration of Radio Movie & Tv, and has pushed state and privately-owned elements of the trade to supply a surge of patriotic and nationalist fare.

Within the intervening interval since Berlin 2019, Zhang and his movie crew returned to the mountains of Gansu Province for reshoots. It’s unclear how a lot footage was changed. When “One Second” lastly handed censorship in September 2020 the brand new edit weighed in with a run-time that was one minute shorter than earlier than.

For “One Second” to then be chosen for a government-owned pageant and awards present, and for it to be given the distinguished opening slot, would counsel that Zhang’s reshoots and re-edits had addressed all of the sensitivities of the Cultural Revolution. However the final two years additionally reveal that passing censorship and acquiring a Dragon Seal are now not tantamount to receiving political blessing.

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Golden Rooster Movie Festival

In June 2019, the 1938-set warfare movie “The Eight Hundred” had been introduced because the opening title on the Shanghai Worldwide Movie Festival, one other government-backed occasion. In the future earlier than the movie’s world premiere, “technical causes” have been once more cited to elucidate a disruption to the schedule. However it rapidly emerged that representatives of a Communist Occasion army veterans group objected to the movie’s depiction of nationalist flags within the pre-Communist period. The flag has since been adopted by democratically-run Taiwan, which Communist China nonetheless considers a insurgent province.

The Golden Rooster Festival has been working for greater than 30 years however final yr was given an improve, and a everlasting residence in Xiamen. That was a part of mainland authorities’ makes an attempt to set it up as ‘China’s Oscars’ and seize that unofficial accolade from the Golden Horse Movie Festival in Taiwan. Mainland authorities additionally organized a boycott of Golden Horse and its awards after one of many 2018 prizewinners used the awards stage to make a speech advocating Taiwan’s independence.

Regardless of the messy protocol issues, “One Second” should land in Chinese language cinemas quickly. “We hope that the discharge on Friday is not going to be affected,” the manufacturing supply stated. As of Tuesday night, on-line ticketing websites together with Maoyan, which can be an investor within the film, have been nonetheless pre-selling tickets.

Equally, regardless of its pageant woes, “The Eight Hundred” was closely reedited and given a launch in July this yr, when it served as a locomotive dragging spectators again into mainland cinemas. It has subsequently earned $441 million, making it one of many highest-grossing movies on the planet this yr.

Prior to now, each Zhang and Lou have been thought of by authorities as troublemakers. Zhang, who was despatched for re-education in the course of the Cultural Revolution, noticed his 1994 epic “To Dwell” banned in China, regardless of profitable awards in Cannes that yr. He was solely totally rehabilitated in 2008 when he choreographed the opulent opening and shutting ceremonies of the Olympic Video games in Beijing that yr.

Lou was capable of present his earlier movie “Shadow Play” in Berlin in 2019 however he stated on the time that getting approval had taken two years of negotiations with censors. “It was probably the most tough censorship course of I’ve ever lived by means of,” he stated at a Berlin press convention.

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