Film Scouts Diaries

1995 New York Film Festival Diaries
China's Zhang Yimou Denied Permission to Attend Festival

by Kathleen Carroll

Sept. 25, 1995

The New York Film Festival announced today that Zhang Yimou, the internationally acclaimed Chinese director, will not be attending this Friday's opening night showing of his film SHANGHAI TRIAD. According to a statement issued by the Film Society of Lincoln Center the Chinese government requested that the director change his plans to attend both the press screening and the gala opening night presentation of his film.

The statement reads as follows: "Mr. Zhang had planned to be with us for these events but representatives of the Chinese government have asked THE GATE OF HEAVENLY PEACE. The documentary by the American filmmakers Carma Hinton and Richard Gordon deals with the events which occurred in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in the spring of 1989."

Richard Pena, the Chairman of the Festival Selection Committee, repeated the statement just prior to the press screening of Zhang's film. "Although we are saddened by Zhang Yimou's absence the Film Society cannot consider requests by Chinese officials to withdraw THE GATE OF HEAVENLY PEACE from our schedule," said Pena in conclusion. When pressed for more details Pena admitted that Chinese officials had used even stronger language. "They said 'We insist that you withdraw this film," Pena added. "I wonder if the Chinese threatened to withdraw SHANGHAI TRIAD," said one journalist. "Now that would have been a bigger scandal."

For the record this is not the first time the Chinese have interfered with Zhang's travel plans. He was, for example, unable to go to the 1994 Cannes Film Festival to promote his film THE STORY OF QIU JU because the Chinese authorities claimed that he had entered the film in the festival without consulting them.

Zhang has also been denied permission to attend the Academy Award ceremonies on more than one occasion.

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