China (mainland), FESTIVALS / EVENTS, NEWS — 04/22/2011 1:01 AM

China: 8th Songzhuang Doc Film Festival is Canceled

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beijing-tiananmen-squareChina: Documentary Film Festival Is Canceled

By EDWARD WONG (NY Times, 21/04/2011)

A prominent independent documentary film festival in China, scheduled this year for May, has been canceled because of the tense atmosphere created by the continuing government crackdown on freedom of speech.

The English edition of Global Times, a populist newspaper, published an article on Wednesday about the cancellation in which it quoted Zhu Rikun, the festival’s art director, saying the organizers had decided to cancel it themselves. “The overall situation was tense, and we had received a lot of pressure,” Mr. Zhu said. “We worried that the films to be shown would meet some problems in this environment and decided to cancel it.” Another festival organizer, Li Shanshan, told Global Times that about 20 overseas guests, 10 directors and around 40 fans had registered to attend the festival. The cancellation of the festival, which is usually held every year in Songzhuang, on the outskirts of Beijing, was first announced Monday on the festival’s microblog on sina.com.

Full article

Organizers pulled the plug after official festival announced its own documentary section.

by Jonathan Landreth (The Hollywood Reporter, 21/04/2011)

BEIJING – Organizers of a long-standing Chinese independent documentary film festival pulled the plug on their own May 1-7 event a day after the state-run First Beijing International Film Festival announced a documentary section, local media reported Wednesday.

Organizers of the Eighth Documentary Film Festival China in the Beijing suburb of Tongzhou surprised participants by canceling the event that for seven years has been one of the country’s few outlets for non-fiction films made outside the state-approved filmmaking system.

“I was surprised that they suddenly canceled the event,” director Xu Xin told the English-language Global Times late Tuesday. Xu, who is best known for his film Karamay, about a theater fire that killed 323 mostly Muslim schoolchildren in western China in 1994, had submitted his new film, Pathway, to the festival for its world premiere, but organizers told him Monday that the festival was canceled. Karamay has never screened in China.

Festival art director Zhu Rikun told The Global Times that organizers worried that filmmakers would get into trouble if this year they went ahead with the festival that has screened more than 300 films from home and abroad since 2004. “We canceled it ourselves,” Zhu said Tuesday. “The overall situation was tense, and we had received a lot of pressure,” he said, without explaining what pressures were encountered.  Zhu did not answer his mobile phone on Wednesday or Thursday.
… / …

The first Beijing International Film Festival, which is set to start Saturday with backing from the Beijing city government, on Tuesday announced a documentary film competition component to its six-day program.
Director Xu said the Tongzhou documentary festival was one of the best of its kind in China because of its independence, high submissions standards and world-famous film commentators.

… / … Karen Chien, the head of dGenerate Films, a New York based company that helps independent Chinese documentarians find distribution outside China, said she was not surprised by the festival’s closure.

IN THE PRESS:

. THR / “Beijing International Film Festival to Feature Documentary Competition” (19/4/2011)

. Global Times /  “Film festival pulls own plug” (20/04/2011)

. New Yorker / “China’s Independent Documentary Festival Pressured to Close”   (21/04/2011)

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