China bans Golden Horse participation

Source: Taipei Times (8/8/19)
China bans Golden Horse participation
JUMP CUT: The film festival’s organizing committee said that the jury process and all events would continue as planned, despite the absence of Chinese participants
By Reuters, BEIJING and TAIPEI

Chinese director Zhang Yimou holds his award for Best Director at the 55th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei on Nov. 17 last year. Photo: AP

The China Film Administration yesterday said that it was blocking the Chinese movie industry from participating in the Golden Horse Awards, without a giving a reason.

China Film News, a magazine published by the agency, made the announcement on its official WeChat account.

“China Film Administration says that it will suspend mainland movies and their personnel from participating in 2019’s 55th Golden Horse Awards,” it said.

The move comes after the annual event, the Chinese-speaking world’s version of the Oscars, became a lightning rod for questions about Taiwanese independence last year, sparking a debate between Taiwanese and Chinese stars, as well as netizens.

“The committee regrets to be informed of the news, if it is confirmed. The jury process of Golden Horse Awards is ongoing and will continue as planned, and all Golden Horse events will take place as usual,” the Golden Horse Film Festival said in a statement.

Shanghai-based film critic Dong Shu (董舒) said that the awards are a good platform for exchanges on films between Taiwan, China and Hong Kong.

“But some people in Taiwan had to get politically sensitive content on it, things that crossed red lines for mainland China, thus the nature of this award has been changed,” Dong said.

The Golden Horse Awards were founded in 1962 and are considered one of the most prestigious awards in the Chinese-speaking film industry, with submissions mainly coming from Taiwan, China and Hong Kong.

The Chinese movie Dying to Survive (我不是藥神) won and was nominated in seven award categories last year, while Chinese director Zhang Yimou (張藝謀) won best director for his period film Shadow (影).

China’s content regulator has also been extra cautious over its own media industry in the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1, withdrawing a few blockbusters and banning “entertainment-driven” historical dramas and idol dramas.

Reports of the suspension quickly became a trending topic on Sina Weibo, with one related hashtag receiving more than 68 million views by yesterday morning.

“Taiwan made this award political first, don’t we have a right to punch back?” a commentator said.

Others expressed disappointment at the decision.

“Politics aside, this is a lose-lose situation. There isn’t an impartial and matchable award in mainland China, what a pity,” another said.

Additional reporting by AP

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