China has closed the 11th Beijing Film Festival, much to the disappointment of independent film makers. Whether this will hurt the independent film market in China remains to be seen.
The 11th Beijing Film Festival has been shut down before even opening by Chinese authorities. The authorities reportedly seized documents and films, as well as detaining two of the event's organisers prior to the event's opening on Saturday 23rd August, 2014. This is apparently not the first time that the festival has suffered since its start in 2006, with police obstruction common. This year, however, it was far worse stated Wang Hongwei to Fox News.
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Hongwei, the Beijing Film Festival's artistic director was detained alongside Li Xianting, a film critic and organiser of the festival. Xianting reported that 10 years' worth of work was confiscated by the police in this strengthening of idealistic control. In 2012, power was cut to the festival, although the organisers persisted and some films were still screened.
"In the past few years, when they forced us to cancel the festival, we just moved it to other places, or delayed the screenings," Hongwei told Fox News. "But this year, we cannot carry on with the festival. It is completely forbidden."
Chris Berry, professor of film studies at King's College London commented: "It's very clear that the (President) Xi Jinping regime is determined to control the ideological realm, which has not been emphasized so much for a long time." He went on to say that China has been known to close down other film festivals in the past, and this is not necessarily out of the ordinary or a particularly strong blow to the Chinese independent film scene.
Hu Jie, an independent film director from the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing disagreed, saying: "the audience for my films is already quite small, perhaps because I make documentaries that talk about history". He continued: "if one of the rare film festivals, like the Beijing Independent Film festival, is shot down, then it will be very difficult for us to survive as filmmakers."
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