public screenings of a horror movie in which Winnie the pooh appears were abruptly suspended in Hong Kong on Tuesday, sparking a debate over increased censorship in the city.
Distributor VII Pillars Entertainment announced on Facebook that the premiere of “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” it had been canceled with “great regret” in Hong Kong and neighboring Macau.
In an email response to the Associated Press, the distributor said it had been informed by theaters that they could not show the film as planned, but that I didn’t know why. The theater chains involved did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
For many residents, the character of Winnie the Pooh AND a playful mockery of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and in the past Chinese censors briefly banned bear searches on social media in the country.
In 2018, at the cinema “Christopher Robin”which also includes Winnie the Pooh, would have been prevented from being released in China.
The fact that the film was picked up in Hong Kong has raised concern on social media about the reduced freedoms in the territory.
The film was initially set to screen in around 30 Hong Kong theaters, VII Pillars Entertainment reported last week.
The Office of Film, Newspapers and Articles Administration said it had cleared the film and that local theaters’ arrangements for showing approved films “respond to the business decisions of the theaters in question.” He declined to comment on those deals.
A screening initially scheduled for Tuesday evening in a theater was canceled for “technical reasons”, said the organizer on Instagram.
Kenny Ng, a professor at the Hong Kong Baptist University Film Academy, declined to speculate on the reason for the cancellation, but suggested the mechanism for silencing critics appeared to be corporate decisions.
Hong Kong is a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997 on a promise to keep its Western-style liberties. but China imposed a national security law following massive pro-democracy protests in 2019, silencing or imprisoning many dissidents.
In 2021, the government tightened guidelines and allowed censors to ban movies who, according to him, had broken that far-reaching law.
Ng said there have been multiple instances of censorship in the city over the past two years, mostly targeting non-commercial films such as independent shorts.
“When there’s a red line, there are more taboos,” she said.
Mary Ortiz is a seasoned journalist with a passion for world events. As a writer for News Rebeat, she brings a fresh perspective to the latest global happenings and provides in-depth coverage that offers a deeper understanding of the world around us.