CANNES – Like Hollywood studios under the Hays Code from 1934 to 1967, London playwrights under the Lord Chamberlain for eons until 1968, filmmakers in China today must please the authorities before their movies are released to the world.
The Hollywood Reporter’s newly appointed Asian Bureau Chief, Beijing-based Jonathan Landreth, reports today that Chinese director Li Yang is re-editing “Blind Mountain,” which is in the Festival de Cannes sidebar Un Certain Regard, to get a release in China.
Landreth says that the director made at least 20 cuts in the picture, which stars Huang Lu (above) as a young woman who is kidnapped to become a peasant’s bride, in attempts to please the Film Bureau in Beijing.
Li said in an interview: “Every time it was submitted, new suggestions came back. It was very difficult to get permission to come here.”
The version screened in Cannes included a scene in which a baby girl was drowned in a pond, abandoned because she wasn’t a boy. It also has a scene very critical of the corruption of the Chinese health system and the ending is not one likely to please Beijing.
Here’s how my review of the film begins in The Hollywood Reporter:
CANNES — Massive applause broke out at the end of the first press screening of Li Yang’s extraordinary film “Blind Mountain,” and it was as much for its final act as for the quality of the picture.
Even though Chinese authorities forced the director to make many cuts before it could be shown in Cannes, the movie retains enormous political impact as well as being a moving drama.
It tells what has been a sadly familiar story in China where hundreds of thousands of women and children have been abducted and sold into slavery. Few of them escape or are rescued. The film’s economical style, vivid cinematography and tremendous acting should attract audiences far and wide.