Beijing Film Festival Facing Filmmaker Backlash Amid Increased Censorship, Including Banning ‘Call Me By Your Name’

When dictators take power or in the case of China, take back power, you are on a slippery slope. Many on the left worry about that in this country, but as of now, we have a president who is neither disciplined or intelligent enough to become a dictator. Our Founding Fathers were geniuses and that pesky Constitution keeps him in check.  Not so much in China, where the dictator just changed their “constitution” small letters and in quotes, to make himself a dictator for life.

The Beijing International Film Festival has always been a bigoted, state-run affair — more of an occasion for political genuflection than a pure celebration of cinematic art. But this year’s eighth edition is facing a larger-than-usual crisis of credibility.


In late March, director Luca Guadagnino’s Oscar-winning gay romance Call Me by Your Name was unceremoniously cut from the festival lineup, which offers a mixed bag of domestic and international releases ranging from the local nationalist hit Operation Red Sea to the provocative Iranian feminist drama Searing Summer. No expla­nation was given for pulling Call Me, but a festival insider reported at the time that the film’s gay love story had been deemed out of bounds by senior figures. “The Beijing festival has always followed the guidelines of those at the top,” the insider said, requesting anonymity.


The incident sparked a wave of negative media attention as observers inside and outside of China interpreted the decision as clear proof that Beijing enforces a de facto ban on films depicting the lives of gay characters. Now insiders worry how the international film community will respond to the festival’s very visible crackdown on Call Me.



No major Hollywood stars have announced plans to attend Beijing in 2018. But several internationally renowned directors — including Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar Wai, 2017 Palme d’Or winner Ruben Ostlund (The Square) and American Rob Cohen, co-creator of The Fast and the Furious franchise — already had joined the fest’s competition jury before the censorship decision.
Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:   Sony Pictures Classics
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