Sat, Jun 29, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Chinese film showing KMT victory blocked

The Guardian

The premiere of an epic Chinese war movie has been canceled a week before its scheduled release, in what appears to be a new round of tightening of ideological control in the country.

A terse one-sentence statement on the official microblog of the film The Eight Hundred this week announced that the film’s premiere scheduled for Friday next week would be canceled and “a new release date will be announced later.”

The film had earlier this month already been pulled the day before its opening-night premiere at the Shanghai International Film Festival, apparently because it glorifies the World War II heroism of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) historic rival, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Chinese-language media reported.

The KMT fought alongside the communists against Japan during World War II, but retreated to Taiwan after it lost the Chinese Civil War in 1949.

Chinese propaganda emphasizes the CCP’s valiant role in the war against Japan, but portrays the KMT as having had a marginal and passive role.

The cancelation of The Eight Hundred came after a group of retired CCP cadres and conservative figures, including high-ranking former military personnel, on June 9 lashed out at the movie in a seminar on films.

An article on a Maoist Web site said that the 17 participants at a China Red Culture Research Association seminar regarded the film as an “inappropriate” tribute to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The film tells the story of how hundreds of KMT soldiers bravely defended a warehouse against Japanese forces for several days to cover Chinese troops retreating west during the Battle of Shanghai in 1937.

While the act of bravery of the so-called “800 heroes” should be remembered, the article quoted the former cadres as saying that the film’s glorification of the KMT’s heroic role was unacceptable.

“The class oppression within the KMT army, its officers’ misdeeds and its evil oppression of the people are nowhere to be found [in the film], as if the KMT army was the real people’s army,” they said. “[The film] used fragments of history to cover up the reality and embellish the KMT’s war efforts.”

The participants criticized the prominent display of the KMT flag in a moving scene in which the soldiers defend the flag on the warehouse roof.

The film “should not so passionately promote the ‘dignity’ and the ‘sanctity’ of the KMT flag... This is an insult to the People’s Republic of China,” they said.

Joseph Cheng (鄭宇碩), retired political science professor at the City University of Hong Kong, said that the cancelation shows that ideological control is tightening in China and no independent view of history is allowed.

“The Chinese authorities suffer from a sense of insecurity, and in order to be politically safe, new and innovative ideas are not accepted even in the fields of the film industry and the creative arts,” Cheng said.

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