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China bans director over Cannes screening

Officials bar Lou Ye from making movies in his homeland for five years after he took a film to the festival without government permission.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Chinese director Lou Ye has been banned from making movies in his home country for five years because his film was screened at Cannes in May without government approval, state media said.

The main Xinhua News Agency said Monday that Lou's movie, "Summer Palace," would be confiscated and income from it seized. The film is a sexually explicit love story set against China's pro-democracy protests of 1989, which led up to the brutal Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Producer Nai An was also banned from making films in China for five years, Xinhua said.

Lou attended the premiere of the film at the Cannes Film Festival in southern France in May without first obtaining permission from China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

Hong Kong media reported earlier this year that Chinese authorities had ordered local news outlets not to report on "Summer Palace" at Cannes. The film has not been approved for release in China.

In 2000, when Jiang Wen's "Devils on the Doorstep" showed at Cannes without government approval, censors kept the movie off the Chinese market, angering investors. And in 1997, China pulled Zhang Yimou's film "Keep Cool" from the festival competition.

Lou has said his film is somewhat autobiographical.

"I wanted to tell this story, because in 1989 I was myself a student at Peking University and was involved in a romance," he said earlier this year, referring to similarities among him and the characters in "Summer Palace."

The student protests ended with the crackdown at Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, which left hundreds if not thousands dead. Chinese authorities still maintain the demonstrations were counterrevolutionary riots.