Chinese producer says he plans to defy ban on film competing at Berlin film festival

A Chinese producer said Monday he would defy Beijing's orders and screen his movie about a massage parlor boss at the Berlin International Film Festival, even as he made a last-ditch effort to get censors to lift the ban.

China's Film Bureau told producer Fang Li on Wednesday that "Lost in Beijing" was not an acceptable choice to compete in the prestigious festival which opens Friday, despite the filmmakers' numerous cuts to try to appease the censors.

Fang said officials agreed to look at another cut of the movie on Monday and that he expected a decision later in the day. Still, he said he plans to take the movie to Berlin where it is nominated for the top grade Golden Bear award regardless of the outcome.

"We cannot cut any more. We don't have any ideas how we can make the story work. This is the last one we think is still marginally acceptable," he said.

Directed by Li Yu, "Lost in Beijing" is about the relationship between a Beijing massage parlor owner, played by Hong Kong actor Leung Ka-fai, and one of his workers.

Fang said he has already edited the movie five times, cutting its length by 15 minutes.

Among the cuts, he has edited out a side character, scenes involving dirty streets, prostitutes, gambling, the Chinese national flag, as well as Beijing's Tiananmen Square the site of a bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 1989.

A spokeswoman for the Berlin film festival said the movie has not been dropped.

"It's scheduled for (screening) Feb. 16 so we still have some time," spokeswoman Frauke Greiner said.

China requires government approval of all movies that screen at foreign film festivals.

Defying such rules can carry heavy penalties, reports AP.

Director Lou Ye and producer Nai An were banned from making movies for five years after showing "Summer Palace" at the Cannes Film Festival last year.

"Summer Palace" is a sexually charged love story set against the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Calls to China's Film Bureau seeking comment went unanswered.

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