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Joined: 16 Dec 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 4:15 pm    Post subject: Chinese tourists demand to watch Ang Lee's latest spy thrill

Chinese tourists demand to watch Ang Lee's latest spy thriller

Posted : Thu, 15 Nov 2007 11:42:02 GMT

Author : DPA

Taipei - Internationally acclaimed Taiwanese director Ang Lee's latest spy thriller, Lust, Caution, has unexpectedly become one of the tour items most demanded by Chinese tourists on holiday visits to the island, local media reported Thursday. Most Chinese tourists have asked to watch Lee's film after a day tour, resulting in local tour guides having to arrange for them to go to the movie in the night time, cable news network TVBS reported.

"Many Chinese tourists said they wanted to watch all the movie because it is shown unedited in Taiwan," TVBS quoted a travel agent as saying. Some tourists even asked for the full-version DVD to be sent back to China as soon as it hits the Taiwanese market.

Seven minutes were cut from the Venice Film Festival award-winning film in China on the grounds that it carries steamy sex scenes. Lee agreed to the cuts demanded by Chinese censors, according to Taiwanese media.

The film, starring Hong Kong actor Tony Leung and Chinese actress Tang Wei, is about a sexually-charged relationship between an undercover female agent and a Japanese-allied spy during World War II in Shanghai.

Despite the cuts, Lust, Caution has been a box office hit in China, raking in the equivalent of 11.5 million US dollars in the first two weeks since it opened on November 1.
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Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Posts: 1691
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 7:34 am    Post subject:

Cinephiles, Pack Your Bags. An Uncut Version Awaits
Qilai Shen/European Pressphoto Agency

To see the uncut film, many affluent Chinese in urban centers like
Shanghai must travel to Hong Kong.

Published: December 19, 2007

SHANGHAI — For weeks now, the ranks of Chinese visitors to Hong Kong
have swelled with a brand-new category of tourists: moviegoers.

In a response to the censoring of a film about love and betrayal in
Shanghai during the Second World War by the Taiwan-born director Ang
Lee, mainland movie fans have flocked by the thousands to Hong Kong to
see the full, uncut version of the film, "Lust, Caution."

The phenomenon of so many people voting, as it were, with their feet
has highlighted the public's rapidly changing attitudes toward the
long unquestioned practice of government censorship of the arts, and
prompted debate about the way films are regulated in China.

Travelers have made their way to Hong Kong to see movies before, of
course, but always in much smaller numbers. Critics and commentators
here attribute the interest in Mr. Lee's movie to a variety of
factors, from word of mouth about risqué sexual content stripped from
the censored version, to a sensitive political subtext rarely seen in
mainland cinema, to the fame of the Academy Award-winning director.

Perhaps most important, though, is the rise of a class of affluent
urbanites in China's rich eastern cities who have grown increasingly
accustomed to ever more choice in their lives. "I went to Hong Kong
with my girlfriend to see "Lust, Caution" because it was heavily
censored here," said Liang Baijian, 25, a businessman and stock market
investor from the Guangxi autonomous region. "We could have bought a
pirated copy of the movie here, but we were not happy with the control
and wanted to support the legal edition of the film."

At least one Chinese movie fan has tried to sue the State
Administration of Radio, Film and Television, which regulates the
industry, for deleting some of the film's content. The director, Mr.
Lee, has said that the censored material was regarded as politically
unacceptable in Beijing because it reinforced the notion of sympathy
between a young Chinese woman and a collaborator with the Japanese
occupiers. The lawsuit has been repeatedly rejected by Beijing courts.

Many in the Chinese film industry support the idea of introducing a
ratings system like the one used in the United States, which advocates
say would lessen the need for outright censorship. The state film
administration, however, has resisted.

Other travelers to Hong Kong, meanwhile, said they accepted the
rationale of a censorship system in a country of stark disparities in
regional income and education, but thought the practice was no longer
justified in cities.

"For myself, I strongly object to censorship, but for the country as a
whole, I think I can still understand its necessity," said Yan Jiawei,
a graphics designer from Shanghai who saw "Lust, Caution" on a recent
business trip to Hong Kong. "It has something to do with people's
educational level. In big cities like Shanghai, people will treat the
deleted scenes as art, while those in less developed areas will only
think of them as immoral."

People in the movie industry here said that the fact that a censored
"Lust, Caution" was available at all in mainland China demonstrated
how far the parameters of the acceptable had broadened since the
beginning of China's reform era over two decades ago. Not long ago,
Chinese film was thoroughly dominated by plot lines that
heavy-handedly reinforced conventional dividing lines between good and
bad, with little room for moral complexities. Unquestioned love of
country was a favorite theme.

While many have been drawn to "Lust, Caution" by the allure of sex
scenes, which even now run the gamut from tame to nonexistent in most
Chinese cinema, still more groundbreaking for a film released here is
the notion of a traitor in a leading role depicted as an attractive
character instead of a villain. "The country has undoubtedly become
more and more open and advanced, and this is the tide of history,
which no one can prevent," said Fang Li, a leading producer. "Compared
to a market economy that's developing so fast, I've never seen an
industry in China as backward as the film industry, though."

Mr. Fang said much of the blame for this lay with the censors, a group
of mostly elderly people who work in committee and invite critical
comment on movies from different branches of government, from the
Women's Federation to provincial governments, all seeking to present
their constituency in the best light and to avoid offense. The censors
"spend most of their time worrying how not to lose their post," he
said. "They are very careful not to make mistakes."

Other critics of the system said the country's censors had become much
more careful about leaving fingerprints. Wu Di, a researcher at the
China Movie Art Center in Beijing, said that when the director Tian
Zhuangzhuang shot "The Blue Kite," a 1993 movie about the banned topic
of the Cultural Revolution, notice was sent throughout the film
industry warning companies against hiring him. Mr. Tian framed one of
the posters and hung it on his wall, referring to it in interviews
with journalists.

"Now, under the so-called harmonious society, they wouldn't do things
so baldly," Mr. Wu said. Instead of publishing a banning notice,
nowadays the same result is achieved with a few phone calls, which
leave little trace.

Li Yu, director of the recent film "Lost in Beijing," which has some
nudity, said she tried hard to remain positive, even after being
forced to excise several minutes from her movie.

"People who make movies in China understand the situation well, and a
lot of them are criticizing the system, saying that censorship
prevents them from making good movies, which is partly true," Ms. Li
said. "But I feel the environment is becoming more and more relaxed."
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