Cut! China snips back some film censorship rules

Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:35am EDT
 
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By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will relax some curbs on filmmakers, the government said on Wednesday, in a small step towards greater freedom of expression that has drawn a cautious welcome from Chinese film directors, who argue authorities will retain a tight grip.

Chinese filmmakers will no longer have to submit screenplays to officials for review and approval before they can shoot a movie, the central government said on its website (www.gov.cn).

But films will continue to be subject to pre-screening approval in one of the world's strictest censorship systems in the second largest movie market after the United States.

The measures appear to be the first, albeit tiny, moves to expand some rights related to freedom of expression after hopes for political reform warmed when a new leadership took power in March.

In its announcement the government did not give a reason for the relaxation, but said that besides helping to usher in new management techniques, it wanted to encourage the interaction of market forces, social expectations and professional skills.

The July 11 regulations, approved by China's State Council, or cabinet, did not say when the changes would take effect.

Chinese filmmakers, who have long lobbied for restrictions to be lifted, said they welcomed the changes, but it was too soon to celebrate.

"Censorship of completed movies still exists," movie director Zhang Qi wrote on his microblog.   Continued...