Chinese authorities shut down the 11th Beijing Independent Film Festival on its opening day on Saturday (August 23).
Festival organisers had been under pressure to cancel the event, held in the Beijing suburb of Songzhuang, home to many art studios and galleries. On Saturday, men claiming to be villagers prevented filmmakers and members of the public from entering the area.
The festival aims to give independent Chinese filmmakers a platform to show their work to the public. However, it makes government officials uneasy as it showcases films made outside the official censorship system. Several editions have previously been disrupted or halted, including the 2012 edition when the festival’s electricity supply was cut.
According to the festival, three of its organisers – Li Xianting, Wang Hongwei and Fan Rong – were detained by police.
“In the past few years when they forced us to cancel the festival, we just moved it to other places, or delayed the screenings,” Wang told the Associated Press. “But this year, we cannot carry on with the festival. It is completely forbidden.”
Beijing’s city government launched its own film festival four years ago, the Beijing International Film Festival, which takes place in central city venues in April.