China Government Shuts Down Beijing Independent Film Festival
China put a constriction on an independent film festival which was due to open on Saturday, August 23. Authorities seized documents and films from Beijing Independent Film Festival organizers for fear that some of the works could contain criticism of the Communist party and its policies.
The indie filmmakers have been at odds with the Chinese government for years but this has so far been the worst. "In the past few years, when they forced us to cancel the festival, we just moved it to other places, or delayed the screenings," Li Xianting, a film critic and founder of the Li Xianting Film Fund told the AP. "But this year, we cannot carry on with the festival. It is completely forbidden."
The festival's artistic director Wang Hongwei was among those detained by the police but were later released, his supporters tweeted. Li said they had been feeling the pressure to shut down in the past few weeks. Government security personnel put him under surveillance and pressured him to cancel the festival, which was due to run through the end of the month.
According to some reports, around a dozen men claiming to be villagers blocked one of the entrances to the venue in the Beijing suburb of Songzhuang. The men prevented about 30 directors and members of public from entering and also reporters from photographing and videotaping the scene.
"The audience for my films is already quite small, perhaps because I make documentaries that talk about history," movie director Hu Jie said. "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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