Chinese authorities have pulled two films from the Palm Springs International Film Festival ahead of screenings later this week of The Sun Behind The Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle For Freedom.

The move comes after festival director Darryl Macdonald defied a request by officials not to show the documentary, and recalls events leading up to last summer’s Melbourne International Film Festival when three Chinese films were withdrawn.

The Sun Behind The Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle For Freedom follows the Dalai Lama over the course of an eventful 12 months that saw the 2008 protests in Tibet, the long march in India, the Beijing Olympics, and the breakdown of talks with China. The festival’s director of programming Helen du Toit confirmed on January 7 that the film-makers would attend the festival.

As a result of the festival’s decision to go ahead with scheduled screenings on January 10 and 12, Chinese authorities have withdrawn Lu Chuan’s Nanking Massacre drama City Of Life And Death (pictured) and Ye Kai’s comedy Quick, Quick, Slow from the festival.

“After meeting with representatives from the Chinese government regarding their request to cancel our screenings of The Sun Behind The Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom, we have respectfully declined their request,” Macdonald said.

“I’m saddened that the Chinese film authorities have chosen to withdraw their films from PSIFF, as the festival is an international cultural event whose mandate is to present a wide cross-section of perspectives and points of view.

“That said, we cannot allow the concerns of one country or community to dictate what films we should or should not play, based on their own cultural or political perspective.  Freedom of expression is a concept that is integral both to the validity of artistic events, and indeed, to the ethos of this country.”

The City Of Life And Death screenings will be replaced by For A Moment Freedom (Austria-France), which centres on a group of Middle Eastern refugees who have made their way to Turkey to apply for European visas, and Sticky Fingers (Canada-France-Spain), a comedy about six of the world’s worst gangsters.

Replacement screenings for Quick, Quick, Slow will be announced at a later date.

Last July politics forced the withdrawal from the Melbourne International Film Festival of Zhao Liang’s Chinese-French documentary Petition – The Court Of The Complainants, about the injustices perpetuated by China’s bureaucracy, Emily Tang’s Hong Kong drama Perfect Life, and the short film Cry Me A River

Chow Keung, the Hong Kong producer of Perfect Life and Cry Me A River, pulled his films in response to the inclusion of Australian documentary The 10 Conditions Of Love, about Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer. Melbourne organisers were also informed they no longer had access to Petition – The Court Of The Complainants.