LouYe's Summer Palace, the sole Chinese film incompetition at Cannes this year, will be screened for the China Film Bureaulater this week in what should be an interesting test case of the country'scurrent censorship environment.
Thefilm was approved at script stage and filmed through official channels, butaccording to Chinese regulations, the Film Bureau's censorship committee mustapprove the completed film before granting permission for it to participate inoverseas festivals.
It'sexpected to run into problems because of its explicit sex scenes and some othercontent.
Set inthe 1980s, the film follows the intense relationship between two art studentsset against a backdrop of social unrest in China and Berlin. Due to itssetting, the film touches on several historical events that China's filmcensors consider problematic.
One ofthe film's two Chinese producers, Fang Li, visited the Film Bureau last Fridayto explain the story of the film.
Completionis scheduled for this week and Fang hopes to submit the film for approvalbefore the week-long May Day holiday starts on Monday.
"Allthe historical incidents are set as the background of the story. It is a lovestory. The film is not about the social upheaval itself," Fang told Screendaily.
Fangalso said the film could in theory have to pull out of Cannes if it doesn'tpass censorship.
"Butthis is the worst case scenario," Fang said.
Producedby Fang's Laurel Films, Nai An's Dream Factory and Paris-based Rosem Films, SummerPalace is Lou's second film to be selected for Cannes competition following PurpleButterfly in 2003.
WildBunch is handling international sales on the film which has already been soldto several territories including Movie Eye in Japan and Festive Films in Singapore.
OceanFilms has French rights.
Chinahas previously banned several films that participated in internationalfestivals without permission.
Althoughhis recent films have been enthusiastically received by the authorities, Zhang Yimou was temporarily barred fromworking with foreign film companies after To Live screened at Cannes without approval in 1994.
However,in recent years, Chinese filmmakers seem to be finding it easier to work withinthe system. Last year, Shanghai Dreams, directed by former "underground"director Wang Xiaoshuai, screened in competition at Cannes with full approvalfrom the Chinese Film Bureau and was later given a Chinese theatrical release.