China Moves to Chill Interest in Independent Films

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After attracting the attention of authorities for years, the Beijing Independent Film Festival was cancelled at the demand of police earlier this month. Amid a government crackdown on dissent that is rapidly gaining momentumChina’s leaders seem to have deemed independent films a threat. AP reports:

Filmmakers whose edgy themes contrast with the rosier images of the country’s mainstream industry are accustomed to censorship of content deemed to show China in a negative light.

But independent filmmakers say authorities now appear to be trying to chill the sharing and discussion of their films, amid a broader clampdown under Chinese leader Xi Jinping on public discourse that could potentially undermine the country’s one-party rule, including the arrests of bloggers who post sensitive material and activists who have accused officials of corruption.

[…]“They just want us to make films about food, clothes, entertainment. They don’t want people to think, they don’t want people to have the freedom to express themselves, they don’t want people to have independent and free ideas,” said Yang Lina, an independent documentary maker whose first fictional  — about urban Chinese women — debuted at Rotterdam’s international  festival this year.

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Marxist School Now in Session for Chinese Journalists

Journalists take pictures and videos of a screen displaying a court’s microblog page during Bo Xilai’s trial on August 23, 2013.

Journalists take pictures and videos of a screen displaying a court’s microblog page during Bo Xilai’s trial.

China has ordered all journalists at state-run media to attend Marxism classes, the latest in a series of recent government moves to assert control over the press.

The Communist Party’s Propaganda Department is requiring the country’s entire official press corps—more than 300,000 reporters and editors—to attend at least two days of Marxist classes this month. State officials have enforced similar “press re-education” programs over the past decade. But this week’s move signals a renewed sense of urgency by authorities, who are trying hard to control the media in an era of microblogging platforms like Sina Weibo and Tencent Holdings’ WeChat, said David Bandurski, editor of the China Media Project, a University of Hong Kong project tracking Chinese media reform.

Mr. Bandurski said the core focus of the classes will likely be on the Marxist view of journalism, which instructs reporters to listen to and support the party and help guide public opinion. Accordingly, the focus for journalists will be on reminding them to help foster stability and support for the government, and to listen to senior leaders in selecting what to publish, he said.

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