The surprise that Venice gave to its thousands of audiences on Tuesday evening must have turned out as a shock for China. Since 2006, the Venice International Film Festival, now on here, has been following a practice of slotting a surprise movie in Competition. This year, it was a Chinese entry, People Mountain People Sea, by Cai Shangjun.
However, the film’s world premiere at Venice did not have an okay from Chinese censors. And censors would perhaps not have wanted the world to see this movie. For, includes grim scenes of tough labour conditions in China’s coal mines.
The story is about a man, who, disillusioned with the police force, chases his brother’s murderer, and in the end masquerades as a miner to try and destroy the killer working there.
China has had a history of running into problems with film festivals. Chinese helmer Lou Ye was banned from making cinema for five years after he screened his Summer Palace in the 2006 Cannes Film Festival without Beijing’s sanction. It was set against the Tiananmen Square episode, something China does not want to show the international community. Also, the work had full frontal nudity and a lot of sex.
However, Lou Ye not only managed to make a movie, Love and Bruises, during the ban, but also got it into Venice this year.
China has a good record in the surprise category: in 2006, Jia Zhangke’s Still Life won the top Golden Lion.