Page last updated at 11:35 GMT, Monday, 11 May 2009 12:35 UK

Chinese director defies film ban

Lou Ye
Lou Ye has called on China's censors to operate a more open system

Controversial Chinese director Lou Ye will defy a five-year state ban on making films by premiering a new movie at the Cannes Film Festival.

Ye, 44, was given the ban in 2006 for screening epic love story Summer Palace at that year's Cannes festival without Chinese government permission.

Now Spring Fever, a story about love and homosexuality, is among 20 films competing for this year's Palme d'Or.

It was shot secretly with a handheld camera in China using five actors.

China's film censorship system must change - it must at least get rid of this provision of banning filming
Lou Ye's producer Nai An

The film, made in two months in Nanjing city, tells the story of a wife's quest to spy on the passionate relationship between her husband and another man.

It could be his most controversial film yet because it deals with homosexuality in China - still a taboo subject in the country.

Producer Nai An, who is also subject to the five-year ban, told the AFP news agency she feared the new film would provoke more trouble.

"But all we want to do is make films, we don't want to cause any problems," she said.

Spring Fever
Spring Fever is Lou Ye's third try for the Palme d'Or

"China's film censorship system must change - it must at least get rid of this provision of banning filming."

Actor Chen Sicheng, who appears in Spring Fever, also said he feared he would be in trouble in China over his involvement.

He told AFP that Ye was "a pioneer" who had "the courage not to give way to society".

Ye's earlier film, Summer Palace, was set around the time of 1989's pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and was banned in China.

He has previously called on China's censors to operate a more open system, with their names and proceedings made public, and meetings open to film-makers.

"These are all very reasonable demands from a director or producer who invests so much money and turns over the fate of his or her movie," he said.

Spring Fever is up against films including Quentin Tarantino's World War II saga Inglourious Basterds, Ken Loach's Looking for Eric and the latest films from Pedro Almodovar and Ang Lee for the Palme d'Or.

This year's Cannes Film Festival begins on Wednesday and runs until 24 May.



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