box office

Why Won’t China Let Director Lou Ye Show His New Movie? The Bisexual Storyline, Perhaps

Film China Banned Director

Three years ago, China banned director Lou Ye from making any more movies for five years, after he showed Summer Palace — about the government’s crackdown on 1989’s Tiananmen Square massacre — at the Cannes Film Festival. But the prohibition didn’t stop Ye from shooting new projects. Last year, covertly taping with digital cameras, he shot Spring Fever — a bisexual love affair complete with graphic gay sex scenes. Not only did Ye take it to Cannes in May (where it won Best Screenplay), but now he’s also taken it back to China.

Today in Hong Kong, Spring Fever opened the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival — in what the Associated Press reports “is likely the last of a handful of screenings on his home soil.” The film — about a private investigator, hired to spy on a married man having a gay affair, falls in love with the man’s boyfriend while maintaining a relationship with his girlfriend — has been picked up by distributors in Russia, South Korea, the U.S., and France. But not in China; that would be illegal.

This, despite Chinese authorities letting Ye travel freely, and not acting to stop him from screening Spring Fever at the Hong Kong film festival. The ban, however, will keep the movie from being shown to wider audiences on the mainland, the latest in a series of seemingly contradictory moves from Chinese authorities — including state-controlled media celebrating Shanghai’s first-ever gay pride prade — about whether gays will be officially accepted.

But it does stick with China’s unofficial official policy on all things homo, dubbed The Three Nos: No approval, no disapproval, and no promotion. Which includes ticket sales.