02/13/2019, 12.00
CHINA
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Zhang Yimou film on the Cultural Revolution withdrawn (by Beijing) from Berlin Film Festival

by Wang Zhicheng

Officially, the withdrawal is due to "technical reasons encountered post production". The government has increased control and censorship on all media. The Department of Propaganda forbids any criticism of the history of the Party.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The new film by director Zhang Yimou, set in the period of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), was withdrawn from the Berlin Film Festival. The film producers announced two days ago that the film would not be screened during the Festival that opens tomorrow.

The official reasons seem to be "technical reasons encountered in post-production", but millions of Chinese suspect that government censorship is behind the withdrawal.

The period of the Cultural Revolution was a decade of application of the most radical communist ideology, resulting in a civil war between the Red Guards - young people manipulated by Mao Zedong and the "band of Four" - and the army, which resulted in the death of the "Great Helmsman".

In addition to persecution of religious people and Mao's critics, during that period university students, professors and intellectuals were forcibly transferred to the countryside to "learn from the peasant proletariat" and many even to forced labor.

At the time Zhang Yimou also suffered this fate. His film "One second" tells of a man who escapes from a farm-prison. Zhang said that his work is a tribute to the people who suffered at the time, which the Chinese call "the time of great chaos".

In the past, another Zhang film, "To Live", was censored and banned in China. In 2008 he was chosen as director for the Beijing Olympics ceremonies.

The cancellation of this film shows the increase in control and censorship on all the media that the government is conducting. Until a few years ago, the government also admitted the "mistakes" committed during the Cultural Revolution, in which between 500,000 and 2 million individuals were killed. But since last year, the Party's propaganda department has not admitted any criticism of the history of the Chinese Communist Party.

Other films that spoke of the Cultural Revolution have suffered the same fate as that of Zhang Yimou.

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