At a panel held in the 4th Beijing International Film Festival, American film director Oliver Stone bluntly criticized the censorship of Beijing.
“Three times I’ve made efforts to co-produce in this country and I’ve come up short,” Stone said. He indicated to make good films of true creativity, China needs to open up and face the history of the country and Mao Zedong.
Stone’s bold remarks earned applause from the audience of movie business professionals. Participating in the Fourth Beijing International Film Festival discussion panel held at the Beijing Hotel on April 17 were several directors and filmmakers both Chinese and foreign, including Oscar-winning filmmakers, Oliver Stone and Alfonso Cuarón.
Known for being outspoken, Stone spoke of co-production with China, but three times he came up short because of too many restrictions.
Stone expressed his dissatisfaction. “You talk about co-production but you don’t want to face the history of China. You don’t want to talk about it.”
Yang Weidong, Beijing artist and independent filmmaker said, “As far as I know about the censoring, the authorities have made many rules and restricted topics.” Stone spoke of his first intent to co-produce a film in China in 1988. He proposed a script about a love story during the Cultural Revolution, but ran into a wall—China will not allow any film about the Cultural Revolution.
The second time was in 2000, when he suggested a documentary about the preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He had prepared hundreds of photos which were constantly subject to official examination. Finally, this film was nixed with the officials’ remarks such as ‘That doesn’t look like a face we can be proud of. We don’t want to show that face to the world,’ reported NY Times.
Stone also revealed that he had attempted a film about Mao Zedong in the early 1990s, but was also rejected.
Yang Weidong: “Mao Zedong made up many lies himself.”
The younger generations don’t even know how many people died because of the Cultural Revolution and the historical background of the Cultural Revolution.
The truth of contemporary Chinese history is yet to be revealed.
If Mao Zedong is to be judged, in the end of the analysis, the Chinese Communist Party will only lose its claim to so-called ‘legality’ and ‘representing the people’. Mr. Stone said that the United States had examined its own mistakes. “We’ve been honest about our own past in America, we’ve shown the flaws,” but, “you don’t want to face the history of China.”
Yang Weidong: “I interviewed many princelings, the so-called second red generations. One of them said that there is no way to negate all what our parents have done. If so, then who are we? What are we doing? We can’t negate our parents. That means even knowing it’s false, no one will stand out and speak up.”
Stone indicated to make good films, China must lift the ban on sensitive topics, face the history and be critical. He said, “Mao Zedong has been lionized in dozens and dozens of Chinese films, but never criticized. It’s about time. You’ve got to make a movie about Mao, about the Cultural Revolution. You do that, you open up, you stir the waters and you allow true creativity to emerge in this country.”
Stone’s remarks won applause from the audience of film professionals both Chinese and foreign. The panel moderator appeared to scramble to contain them, couching much of her response in the language of officialdom.
She said, “Every country has different needs, has its own characteristics,” reported the NY Times. But Stone responded bluntly, to protect the country against many, “but not your history, for Christ’s sake.”