China to review film censorship standards

Still from Laborer's Love - the oldest surviving Chinese-produced film

Still from Laborer’s Love (1922), the oldest-known surviving Chinese-produced film

The People’s Republic of China has begun steps to review the nation’s heavy censorship of film creation, production, and distribution. China is set to overtake the United States as the largest consumer of feature films within two years, but the power of the Chinese film market can already be seen rearing its head. For instance, take a look at the current Box Office Mojo list of the world’s highest grossing films and you’ll find that of the 3 films that entered the top 6 entries of the all-time grossing list during 2015, China was the highest grossing foreign market by 230% for Jurassic World, by 3 to 1 for Age of Ultron, and China raked in even more than the United States for Furious 7, which pushed that film to become the 5th highest grossing film ever. It was a big year for the movie business in 2015 and China was one of the biggest reasons for this.

When it comes to film production, China remains a black box in terms of censorship, but this is something that Reuters News Service is reporting is about to change. In addition to new economic incentives to drive film production, they quote the official Chinese news service Xinhua, stating that the government is considering creating open and concrete film examination standards, with the goal of supporting the “freedom to produce films.” This could signal a significant step away from the country’s 2001 ban on any broadcast material seen as contrary to state goals or “national traditions”; pretty much the kind of material we have come to term “Oscar bait” on this side of the Atlantic. But the draft law being considered in China signifies the growing power of art and art commerce in the Chinese Republic, and hopefully, its link to the growing push for more freedom within the country.

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