By Pengju Yang（Jasper）.
The 2018 Melbourne International Film Festival has many films from all over the world. There are a lot of movies from my country, China, and I am most interested in the film “ASH IS PUREST WHITE” directed by Jia Zhangke. However, the ticket has been sold out when I noticed the movie, but I am still ready to go to the standby queues to try my luck. Jia Zhangke’s films often appear in various international film festivals in the world, which brings me some new thinking.
Jia Zhangke is a very successful director and screenwriter. The interesting thing is that when you see Jia Zhangke’s biography, you will find that he has won many awards and recognition at many international film festivals outside of China. Jia Zhangke’s international recognition is much more than his recognition in China.
Jia Zhangke’s film is full of Chinese elements, but the Chinese elements in his films are not the giant dragons, history, Great Wall or dumplings. He is concerned about present China. He likes to pay attention to the humanities and social issues of China in the movie. Of course, many problems may be negative. Such negative elements may be contrary to China’s censorship system. In the Chinese film censorship system, it is forbidden to promote negative views, deliberately rendering and exaggerating human ignorance or social darkness. Besides, there is no film grading system in China. Therefore, for some policy reasons, Jia Zhangke has produced four films in eight years, but none of them can be released in China.
In 2013, Jia Zhangke’s film “A TOUCH OF SIN” was submitted to the China Film Review Committee for approval. Jia Zhangke initially claimed that this was a movie that could be approved by China. However, it was not approved at all. Jia Zhangke also avoided this problem in some interviews at the time. No one knows the reason, but many people may have guessed the reason. “A TOUCH OF SIN” is a movie that faces the dark side of the people and the Chinese society. Putting such a theme in China is risky. In the end, Jia Zhangke brought this film to many international film festivals in the world and received many awards and praise.
“A TOUCH OF SIN”——“天注定”
Jia Zhangke’s approach may provide a way for Chinese independent filmmakers. If they want to keep their artistic freedom, they can choose to avoid censorship and go directly to find some international film festivals for cooperation or release. In other words, some international film festivals may be a new window for filmmakers who are struggling under China’s censorship. They can get the recognition, criticism, and advice they want at such a film festival instead of repeatedly catering to the censorship system to cut down the shots they want to keep.
Jia Zhangke won the Golden Horse Award（2015 Cannes Film Festival）
However, China has become one of the world’s largest box office income countries. It is still difficult for us to ignore China’s huge box office revenue. If Chinese filmmakers are safely making movies in the censorship system, they may get huge benefits. However, it seems that if Chinese filmmakers want to preserve the integrity of the art, they must carefully choose the subject matter of the film or send their film to a foreign film festival.
Frater, P., & Frater, P. (2018). China’s Jia Zhangke to Receive French Honor at Cannes. Retrieved from https://variety.com/2015/film/asia/chinas-jia-zhangke-to-receive-french-honor-at-cannes-1201453421/
MIFF 2018 | Film. (2018). Retrieved from http://miff.com.au/program/film/ash-is-purest-white