Daily | Festivals Rally Behind Beijing’s Independents

Beijing Independent Film Festival

This year’s poster references last year’s edition

As noted over the weekend, Chinese authorities shut down the Beijing Independent Film Festival, which was to have begun on August 23. Last year, they cut off the festival’s electricity—hence the image of a generator on this year’s poster. On Saturday, authorities confiscated films and documents, some of them from the office of film critic and festival organizer Li Xianting, and detained Li and the festival’s artistic director, Wang Hongwei.

Now over a dozen heads of festivals from around the world have signed an open statement of support: “We call upon the relevant Chinese authorities to permit the Beijing Independent Film Festival to pursue its mission to nurture and exhibit a full range of alternative cinematic voices in China, to allow the festival to operate without interference, and to allow the Li Xianting Film Fund to continue its vital mission of archiving and supporting independent Chinese filmmakers.” The signatories:

  • Berlinale Forum, Christoph Terhechte, Head
  • Curtas Vila do Conde International Film Festival, Nuno Rodrigues, Miguel Dias, Mário Micaelo , co-directors
  • dGenerate Films, Karin Chien, President
  • DocLisboa, Cíntia Gil and Augusto M. Seabra, co-directors
  • Film Society of Lincoln Center, Dennis Lim, Director of Programming
  • Göteborg International Film Festival, Jonas Holmberg, Artistic Director, Marit Kapla, Head of Program
  • Hong Kong Independent Film Festival, Vincent Chui, Artistic Director
  • Images Cinema, Doug Jones, Executive Director
  • International Film Festival Rotterdam, Rutger Wolfson, Festival Director
  • Lima Independiente Festival Internacional de Cine, Alonso Izaguirre, Director
  • New York Film Festival, Kent Jones, Director
  • Sydney Film Festival, Nashen Moodley, Festival Director
  • The Association of Documentary Filmmakers of Chile, Amalric de Pontcharra
  • Torino Film Festival, Emanuela Martini, Director
  • Tromsø International Film Festival, Martha Otte, Festival Director
  • Tokyo Filmex, Shozo Ichiyama, Program Director
  • True/False Film Fest, Paul Sturtz and David Wilson, co-directors
  • Visions du Réel, Luciano Barisone, Director

The statement also links to a detailed report on this year’s hassles from David Bandurski at the China Media Project that begins by noting that director Huang Wenhai has called Saturday ‘the darkest day in the history of Chinese independent film.'”

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