Re: Banned Chinese films

Jeffrey Clark (
Thu, 3 Oct 2002 07:56:40 -0700 (PDT)

Jessica's thoughts below are my own: curiosity as to whether the titles you
list--or many additional titles for that matter--are truly "banned" for
political reasons.

For myself, if that's not the case and what's at issue are rights and
limited distribution--titles that just ain't been released for an
international audience--I'd advise not getting into purchasing unauthorized
copies for a public collection. Faculty know (or you can also let them
know) there's a source for such "bootleg" versions of films not legally
distributed--and if they need them for research or class use urgently
enough, they can make the decision whether they and/or their depts. want to
fund copies on their own. Then these copies become just another part of the
unofficial local collections that grow in the dark like mushroom patches
around most campuses. (Sorry, that's meant more as a bit of bemused levity,
not sarcasm.) In that case, you mainly need to be careful not to place them
on public reserves when encountering them, or to directly assist with using
them at screenings.

But if political banning is truly involved, one would need to know more
about the titles in order to make a decision more creative than based on a
political conviction ("these titles deserve to be released and not
silenced!") or on copyright ethics ("they may not respect our rights, but
we'll continue to set the example regardless and respect theirs..."). These
titles must have a legitimate distributor or producer--even if not in any
international video version--who might be identified and contacted to
acquire other copies, or permission to obtain and use any bootleg-type
copies available, if they really want that done. But having said that, I
may be naive about the intricacies of censorship pressures and what kind of
communication can even be made with distributors under such circumstances.

Still, I'd be curious if that's really the dilemma here.


--On Wednesday, October 02, 2002 5:37 PM -0700 Jessica Rosner
<> wrote:

> Just curious what the titles are since the few films I know of which are
> banned in China are actually available in the US. I am honestly aware of
> the Chinese Government "banning" that many movies as they just don't let
> them get made in the first place. We distribute THE BLUE KITE which is
> one of the few films I know of that was at least partly financed by the
> Government and then banned.
> Are you sure these films are "banned" or just not available release in the
> US. The vast majority of Chinese films DON'T get distributed in legal
> video in the US but for more mundane reasons of rights & value. I would
> be very surprised if there were that many mainland Chinese films that
> were "banned"
> Anyway would love to see a list of these films
> --
> Jessica Rosner
> Kino International
> 333 W 39th St. 503
> NY NY 10018
>> From: "Marcia M. Parsons" <>
>> Reply-To:
>> Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2002 14:04:58 -0700 (PDT)
>> To: Multiple recipients of list <>
>> Subject: Re: Banned Chinese films
>> Hi Sara, I'm on this list, and I would go for it. We had a case, years
>> ago about Cuba's music, with the same decision. Marcia
>> At 01:50 PM 10/2/02 -0700, you wrote:
>>> Hello Videolibbers,
>>> I'd love to hear your opinions about this situation....
>>> My colleague, our Chinese Studies librarian, is very interested in
>>> adding several Chinese film titles to the collection, all of which have
>>> been banned by the Chinese government. No "legal" copies are therefore
>>> available for purchase; however, she's located a vendor (based in the
>>> US) who has pirated copies of these titles for sale.
>>> We would both very much like to add these titles to the collection, not
>>> least because faculty are clamoring for them, and research interest in
>>> them on campus is extensive. The fact that the films have been banned
>>> for political reasons, and that the filmmakers themselves may very well
>>> welcome the wider distribution of these films, is also encouraging me
>>> to take a risk in this case--but the issues involved are obviously
>>> complex. (I could make a crack about the Chinese government's
>>> notorious lack of attention to US copyright law, but I shouldn't....)
>>> Frankly, copyright seems a small consideration compared to the larger
>>> issues at hand. A few of the titles are below, in case any of you know
>>> Chinese. What would YOU do?! Thanks for any words of wisdom,
>>> Sara
>>> Xiao wu
>>> Wu shan yun yu
>>> Dong gong xi gong
>>> Gui zi lai le
>>> Sara Seten Berghausen
>>> Librarian for Literature & Theater Studies, Interim Film/Video Librarian
>>> Reference Department, 113 Perkins Library, Box 90175
>>> 919-660-5881, Fax 919-684-2855
>>> 108 Lilly Library, Box 90725
>>> 919-660-5886, Fax 919-660-5999
>>> Duke University Libraries
>>> Durham, NC 27708

Jeff Clark
Media Resources (MSC 1701)
James Madison University
540-568-6770 (voice)
540-568-3405 (fax)