Patriotic Movie Apparently Falls Afoul of China’s Censors


In fact, the battalion’s actions have been lauded previously by the Communist government, which in 2015 turned the warehouse building, located on the Suzhou River in Shanghai’s center, into a memorial museum. The state television network, CCTV, lionized the battle when the museum opened.

Under Mr. Xi, it seems, political winds have since shifted.

This new flurry of censorship has been all the more chilling because the cancellations and withdrawals of films have come only days, or even hours, before long-scheduled and carefully planned premieres. That has roiled the peak summer season for movies in the world’s second-largest market.

“It cannot be done this way,” another prominent director, Jia Zhangke, wrote in a post on Weibo the night “The Eight Hundred” was pulled from the Shanghai film festival.

One of the film’s producers, Huayi Brothers Media Corporation, among the country’s largest, had high expectations for the film after struggling recently. In the wake of its travails, shares in the company have fallen, dropping 8 percent by the end of trading on Wednesday on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

As part of a government reorganization last year, the department that oversees films was subsumed into the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party. The reorganization might also have contributed to more rigorous ideological scrutiny or simply created bureaucratic delays in approvals for films heading to international film festivals.

Another crime drama, “Summer of Changsha,” did appear at the Cannes Film Festival but apparently without the department’s required approval. The director, Zu Feng, and others from the creative team announced at the last minute that they would not themselves attend. They cited “technical reasons,” a euphemism widely understood here to refer to censorship.

Mr. Zu, a prominent actor making his directing debut, had already granted an interview to the festival’s organizers in advance of its screening, saying that China’s film industry was booming.

“Compared with the maturity of the film industry in Europe and America, we are still young and immature,” he said. “I hope it will get better and better.”

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