A theater for banned films

Thousands of artists live and work in the village of Songzhuang, just outside Beijing. In the middle of town, independent filmmakers show new features and documentaries at the Fanhall Center for the Arts. These productions are uncensored and unapproved by the government, so they can’t get into -state-run theaters. Fanhall founder Zhu Rikun has been bringing them to audiences for 11 years, despite frequent government -attempts to thwart him.

 

These films tackle subjects officials would rather people didn’t talk about, such as…?

“They can be stories about love or growing up in China, but they can also be about the Cultural Revolution or house -expropriation. The documentary Karamay, directed by Xu Xin, is about a fire in the oil city of that name that killed 300 children in 1994. The fire -broke out at a show for a group of communist party members. The kids had to wait in line -until all the party members had left the building, so a lot of them were -unable to escape. Films and documentaries like these that deal with sensitive topics contain images the -government really doesn’t want the people to see.”

 

Why is it important to show these films?

“The right to show these movies is linked to your rights as a human being. In my opinion, people need to be able to show this work. That’s not so much because I like independent films, but just because everyone should have the freedom to make and see these kinds of productions.”

 

Who comes to the screenings?

“A small but diverse audience of -filmmakers, students and producers, usually 30 or 40 people per showing. More people would come if we were able to -advertise, but the local authorities won’t let us.”

 

Have you ever thought about stopping?

“Several times. But this kind of government interference is normal in China, so you have to learn to live with it. Last year we had to cancel our annual film festival under pressure from the local authorities. We always post a guard to watch for police during showings. But you have to put up with the hassle and accept that you can’t show every film. Stopping isn’t an option. What we’re doing is in society’s interest, so we have to keep going.”

Solution News Source

A theater for banned films

Thousands of artists live and work in the village of Songzhuang, just outside Beijing. In the middle of town, independent filmmakers show new features and documentaries at the Fanhall Center for the Arts. These productions are uncensored and unapproved by the government, so they can’t get into -state-run theaters. Fanhall founder Zhu Rikun has been bringing them to audiences for 11 years, despite frequent government -attempts to thwart him.

 

These films tackle subjects officials would rather people didn’t talk about, such as…?

“They can be stories about love or growing up in China, but they can also be about the Cultural Revolution or house -expropriation. The documentary Karamay, directed by Xu Xin, is about a fire in the oil city of that name that killed 300 children in 1994. The fire -broke out at a show for a group of communist party members. The kids had to wait in line -until all the party members had left the building, so a lot of them were -unable to escape. Films and documentaries like these that deal with sensitive topics contain images the -government really doesn’t want the people to see.”

 

Why is it important to show these films?

“The right to show these movies is linked to your rights as a human being. In my opinion, people need to be able to show this work. That’s not so much because I like independent films, but just because everyone should have the freedom to make and see these kinds of productions.”

 

Who comes to the screenings?

“A small but diverse audience of -filmmakers, students and producers, usually 30 or 40 people per showing. More people would come if we were able to -advertise, but the local authorities won’t let us.”

 

Have you ever thought about stopping?

“Several times. But this kind of government interference is normal in China, so you have to learn to live with it. Last year we had to cancel our annual film festival under pressure from the local authorities. We always post a guard to watch for police during showings. But you have to put up with the hassle and accept that you can’t show every film. Stopping isn’t an option. What we’re doing is in society’s interest, so we have to keep going.”

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