Keep up censorship fight, urges acclaimed Chinese filmmaker
Chinese filmmakers must fight censorship even if it means removing their name from their own work, one-time banned Chinese director Lou Ye told AFP in an interview ahead of this month's Asian Film Awards in which his crime thriller "Mystery" has been nominated in six categories.
Banned in 2006 from filming in China for five years, Lou's latest picture tackles the subject of a new breed of wealthy and middle income men in post-socialist China for whom taking a mistress is the norm, in a practice that harks back to imperial China.
With nominations including best film, best director and best actress for Hao Lei's portrayal of a betrayed wife, "Mystery" begins with a violent death and tells the story of one man's double life.
"The film is about a very small group of people. It is about what happens between two women, the double life that this man leads, but through this I get to talk about things that happen in wider society," he said in Paris where the film was shown as part of a China programme at the city's Forum des Images in February.
"What is important to me is the way in which we see that all the protagonists are linked to the death of this young girl, the way that no-one can say this has nothing to do with me," he said.
According to Lou, having a mistress is now commonplace in China for anyone with sufficient means.
"Currently we see this way of life in particular among people who have money," he said adding that it was seen as a status symbol for men while a woman acting in the same way would be stigmatised.
The film is his second since the end of the ban imposed after he took his love story "Summer Palace", set around the taboo subject of the 1989 pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests, to Cannes without official approval.
Lou responded by continuing to work, filming his next feature "Spring Fever" in secret using a handheld camera as well as "Love and Bruises" which came out after the ban expired.
Although now able to film in China again, Lou remains the subject of unwanted attention from censors.
After submitting the script for "Mystery", Lou waited for five months for a response.
Authorisation was given but demands for last minute changes followed.
Although described as "minimal" by Lou, he still regards them as unacceptable.
"I used social networks in China to tell everyone that they were demanding modifications and I entered into a dialogue with the censors and in the end came up with something that was satisfactory," he said.
"The very existence of censors is a worry for all film directors. In China it is a reality," he said.
Lou urges all filmmakers to play their part in ensuring an end to the power of the censor.
"All directors have a responsibility for the fact that censorship continues today in China," he said, adding that there had been some progress in recent years "considering the situation before".
In the meantime, his next film is an adaptation of a novel by Bi Feiyu about blind masseurs which he hopes to finish this year.
"I hope that for my next film my name will be on the screen," he said.
© 2013 AFP