Following months ofspeculation, Chinese authorities have finally made a statement aboutcontroversial Cannes competition entry Summer Palace, banning both the directorLou Ye and producer Nai An from making films in China for five years.

According to the Beijing-basedLegal Mirror newspaper, the filmmaking duo has been banned for submitting thefilm to Cannes without approval from the State Administration forRadio, Film and Television (SARFT). In addition the film will be confiscatedand a fine of five to ten times the film's income will be levied.

A SARFT official confirmedthe ban but refused to comment further. Lou was previously banned for two yearsin 2000 following his Rotterdam Film Festival winner Suzhou River.

Summer Palace is set to screen at the upcoming TorontoInternational Film Festival and has been sold widely to overseas territories byWild Bunch. It's scheduled for release in France through Ocean Films next March.

Set in the 1980s, the filmfollows the intense relationship between two art students set against abackdrop of social unrest in China and Berlin. It was this backdrop, which touched on sensitiveevents such as the Tiananmen Square massacre, along withexplicit sexual content, that was expected to cause problems with the censors.

The film was initially approved by SARFT's Film Bureau on the strength of its synopsis, following a relaxation in the rules a few years ago that enabled films to obtain production permits without submitting the entire script. However, under China's stringent regulations, films must be submitted for approval twice - both at script stage and when completed.

Summer Palace was submitted to the censors while Cannes was underway, but they refused to review it claiming that the print was of poor quality.

It's understood that, following the Summer Palace case, the Film Bureau has tightened the rules again so that entire scripts must be submitted for approval before a film begins to shoot.

It's also understood that Fang Li, one of the film's producers alongside Nai An and Rosem Films' Sylvain Bursztejn, has not been blacklisted as he withdrew as producer and took his name off the film some months ago. He is currently preparing two projects in Beijing including Li Yu's Lost In Beijing.