A Chinese consulate in the U.S. has contacted the Palm Beach International Film Festival to warn them about a harmful movie they will screen that documents the violent persecution of a Chinese spiritual practice by communist authorities.
The consulate in Houston repeatedly called an organizer of the film festival making inquiries about the film, according to a spokesperson who did not want to be named, in a telephone interview with The Epoch Times: They called asking questions,
telling us that they thought it would be potentially harmful to them,
The consular official was told that We're in America, according to the individual, and that the film would be shown nevertheless.
Michael Perlman, the filmmaker, understood the calls from the consulate to be an attempt at censorship:
This brazen attempt to silence free speech and expression of an American citizen in the United States by the Chinese government is dangerous and must be exposed so that these actions will not be repeated.
The documentary that aroused the phone calls is titled Free China: The Courage to Believe , and was directed by artist and activist Michael Perlman. It will be screened publicly for the first time at the Palm Beach International Film Festival on
April 14 and 16.
Free China documents the persecution of Falun Gong, a popular Chinese spiritual practice, through the stories of two adherents who have been incarcerated and tortured by Chinese authorities because of their beliefs.
Executives at the Hollywood studio, Paramount have been worrying about a minor plot point in the $175 million zombie film, World
War Z , which stars Brad Pitt.
In the 'offending scene', characters debate the geographic origin of an outbreak that caused a zombie apocalypse and point to China, a Paramount executive told TheWrap.
The fast-rising prominence of the Chinese market, state censorship and the tight quotas for U.S. releases, the studio advised the movie producers to drop the reference to China and cite a different country as a possible source of the pandemic, an
executive with knowledge of the film told TheWrap.
The change was made in recent days in the hopes of landing a deal for one of Paramount's biggest summer movies to play in China.
The notion that the formerly mighty American publisher Reader's Digest would allow the Chinese Communist party to censor its novels would once have appeared so outrageous as to be unimaginable. In the globalised world, what was once unimaginable is
becoming commonplace, however. The Australian novelist LA (Louisa) Larkin has learned the hard way that old certainties no longer apply as the globalisation of trade leads to the globalisation of authoritarian power.
Larkin published Thirst in 2012. She set her thriller in an Antarctic research station, where mercenaries besiege a team of scientists. China is not a major theme of a novel set in Antarctica. But Larkin needed a back story for her Wendy Woo character
who was linked with the villains of her drama. So she wrote that Chinese authorities arrested and tortures Woo's mother for being a member of the banned religious group Falun Gong.
Larkin was delighted when Reader's Digest said it would take her work for one of its anthologies of condensed novels. Thirst would reach a worldwide audience in the English edition for the Indian subcontinent, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and
But the publishers had outsourced its printing to China. The printing firm noticed the heretical passages in Larkin's novel. All references to Falun Gong had to go, it said, as did all references to agents of the Chinese state engaging in torture. They
demanded censorship, even though the book was not set for distribution in China.
Phil Patterson from Larkin's London agents, Marjacq Scripts, tried to explain the basics for a free society to Reader's Digest . To allow China to engage in extraterritorial censorship of an Australian novelist writing for an American publisher
would set a very dangerous precedent , he told its editors. Larkin told me she would have found it unconscionable to change her book to please a dictatorship. When she made the same point to Reader's Digest, it replied that if it insisted on
defending freedom of publication, it would have to move the printing from China to Hong Kong at a cost of US$30,000.
Reader's Digest decided last week to accept the ban and scrap the book.
The leading book publisher in Australia, Allen & Unwin, has dropped a book about the influence of China's Communist Party in Australia's domestic affairs, due to censorship pressure from China, or maybe from the fear of Chinese action
against the publisher..
In a decision likened to the recent decision by Cambridge University Press to restrict access to sensitive China-related articles, the release of the forthcoming book, Clive Hamilton's Silent Invasion: How China is Turning Australia into a
Puppet State was shelved by the publisher over concerns about potential legal action by China.
The author and a prominent Australian academic, said the decision by Allen & Unwin demonstrated the extent of the shadow cast by Beijing.
It is believed to be the first time that a publisher has suspended publication of a book in a Western market because of fears of potential pressure from Beijing.
We as Australians living in a free society should not allow ourselves to be bullied into silence by an autocratic foreign power, Professor Hamilton told ABC News.
In a statement, Allen & Unwin said it decided to delay publication following extensive legal advice. Clive was unwilling to delay publication and requested the return of his rights, as he is entitled to do, it said. We continue to wish him the
best of luck with the book.