January 29, 2007 / 5:58 AM / 11 years ago

"Lost in Beijing" seeks OK from China censors

BEIJING (Hollywood Reporter) - Hoping to avoid the controversy that embroiled “Summer Palace” at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, the producer of Berlin-bound “Lost in Beijing” has struck a compromise with China’s censors.

After seven days spent re-editing the adult drama “Lost in Beijing,” producer Fang Li said Friday that he and director Li Yu have agreed on 65% of the cuts requested by China’s Film Bureau. The movie is scheduled for a February 16 premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.

“We have good communication with the Film Bureau this time,” Fang said, speaking via phone from his San Francisco home.

In May, Fang drew the censors’ heat and worldwide media attention by taking the politically sensitive “Summer Palace” to Cannes without Beijing’s approval, resulting in the blacklisting of director Lou Ye in China.

Fang said that he and Li, one of China’s few rising female directors, resubmitted “Lost” for its final content review Friday.

“Lost” tells the story of a sexually charged relationship between a Beijing massage parlor boss, played by Hong Kong star Tony Leung, and his employee, played by mainland starlet Fan Bingbing.

Some of the 15 cuts requested by Beijing’s censors could affect the structure of “Lost” -- called “Pinguo” (Apple) in Chinese, after Fan’s character -- and change its characters’ development and the meaning of certain scenes, Fang said.

“Previously, a film like this would have had no room to negotiate, but this time both sides are making great compromises,” Fang said.

When reached by telephone in Beijing, Li, who is known on the international festival circuit for her “Fish and Elephant” and “Dam Street,” said she was too exhausted to talk about “Lost.”

The censors will decide on “Lost” within two days, said an official in the international department of the Film Bureau at the State Administration of Radio Film and Television.

“If it’s approved for screening here, then it will have no problem going to international festivals,” a SARFT official said.

If the content of “Lost” is approved, Fang said his Beijing-based crew will rush to finish post-production and resubmit the film to SARFT for technical approval. Only then would it be ready to go to Berlin without the risk of a ban, he said.

During his clash with the Film Bureau over “Summer Palace,” censors told Fang that Lou Ye’s film depicting the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre was “technically flawed.”

Censors did not mention the film’s politically taboo content -- or its numerous sex scenes -- when they rejected it and banned Lou from making movies on the mainland for five years.

Fang said he needs SARFT’s approval by February 10 if “Lost” is to make it to Berlin in time.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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