The International Film Festival of India (Oct 9-19) has pulled Li Yang's Blind Shaft from its line-up after the Chinese government expressed its objection to the film.
The Hong Kong-German co-production has already played widely at festivals around the world, starting with its premiere at this year's Berlin Film Festival where it won the Silver Bear for individual artistic achievement. However, this marks the first time that Beijing has exerted pressure to stop the film from being screened.
Festival organisers wrote to Li Yang to say they would be unable to screen Blind Shaft because "the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in New Delhi conveyed to us that the film was shot illegally in China and did not get any certificate from the concerned authority of the Chinese government."
The film, about migrant workers in Northern China's coalmines, is set to screen in the "Window On Asian Cinema" section of the Pusan International Film Festival this weekend. Earlier this year it played at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it took the prize for best narrative feature, and the Deauville Festival of Asian Film, where it scooped five awards including best film and best director.
Hong Kong and Los Angeles-based sales agent, The Film Library, has sold the film to distributors including Ocean Films in France, Optimum Releasing in the UK and Kino International in the US. However it is banned in mainland China because it was filmed without permission from the Film Bureau of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).
The 34th International Film Festival of India is organised by the Indian government's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This year's programme includes Lars von Trier's Dogville and Francois Ozon's Swimming Pool, along with Indian productions such as Chandraprakash Dwivedi's Pinjar and Vishal Bhardwaj's Maqbool.