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Filmmakers unpunished so far

China's censors had not approved the version of their movie that screened in Berlin.

March 21, 2007|Min Lee | Associated Press

HONG KONG — A Chinese producer and director who screened an uncensored movie at the Berlin Film Festival last month have so far escaped punishment, the producer said Tuesday, adding that the filmmakers will continue to test censors' tolerance with their work.

The fate of the filmmakers behind "Lost in Beijing" has drawn attention because two of their Chinese counterparts were banned from making movies for five years after showing a film at the Cannes Film Festival last year without government approval.

Producer Fang Li and director Li Yu went through a protracted censorship process in China that saw them editing "Lost in Beijing" five times before it was cleared to screen in Berlin.

The producer said earlier he cut a side character, scenes involving dirty streets, prostitutes, gambling, the Chinese national flag, as well as Beijing's Tiananmen Square -- the site of pro-democracy protests that prompted a bloody military crackdown in 1989.

Fang, however, ended up screening the uncensored version of the movie in Berlin in mid-February, saying he didn't have time to finish post-production and adding subtitles to the censored cut.

Fang said in a telephone interview Tuesday that both he and director Li haven't been punished by China's Film Bureau. He speculated it was because the Chinese government doesn't want to draw attention to the case. "If they punish me ... everyone's going to hear about this. The press is going to cover this. It just makes them look bad," he said.

Chinese authorities made headlines by banning director Lou Ye and producer Nai An from filmmaking for five years after they showed the love story "Summer Palace" at the Cannes Film Festival last year without permission.

"Lost in Beijing" is about the tangled relationship between two couples.

Fang said he and Li were working on another script set in modern China but declined to give further details.

He said he planned to continue making movies that test Chinese censors' sensibilities. "Without fighting, China can never go forward

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