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Shrinking freedom sees Hong Kong cinemas cancel ‘Winnie the Pooh’ film

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(TibetanReview.net, Mar22’23) – Public screenings of a slasher film that features Winnie the Pooh, seen as a playful taunt on China’s President Xi Jinping, were scrapped abruptly in Hong Kong on Mar 21, sparking discussions over increasing censorship in the city, reported the apnews.com Mar 22.

The report said film distributor VII Pillars Entertainment had announced on Facebook that the release of “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” had been canceled with “great regret” in Hong Kong and neighbouring Macao.

The movie was initially set to be shown in about 30 cinemas in Hong Kong, the distributor had written last week.

Now it has spoken of having been notified by cinemas that they could not show the film as scheduled, but it didn’t know why.

The Winnie the Pooh character has remained banned in China over the past several years. In 2018, the film “Christopher Robin,” which also featured Winnie the Pooh, was denied a release in China, the report noted.

Kenny Ng, a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University’s academy of film, has refused to speculate on the reason behind the cancellation, but suggested the mechanism of silencing criticism appeared to be resorting to commercial decisions.

The democratic freedom China promised during Hong Kong’s return to its rule in 1997 came to an abrupt end when it imposed a national security law adopted by the Chinese parliament on Jun 30, 2020 following massive pro-democracy protests in 2019, silencing or jailing many dissidents.

Following it, the government, in 2021, tightened guidelines and authorized censors to ban films believed to have breached the sweeping law.

Ng has said the city saw more cases of censorship over the last two years, mostly targeting non-commercial movies, such as independent short films.

“When there is a red line, then there are more taboos,” he has said.


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