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12 Jun 2009

Authorities shut down film screenings and play at Shanghai Pride

A Shanghai Pride festival spokesperson speaks to Fridae about the forced the cancellation of a play about a gay hate crime and two movie screenings - although one has found a new venue and will go on tonight.

A film screening scheduled to be held on Wednesday night at Kathleen's 5 was cancelled at the last minute after officials from the Shanghai Administration of Industry and Commerce (SHAIC) visited the venue hours before the event and warned the management that they could face "severe consequences" if the event went ahead. According to the festival spokesperson, the manager was told that the venue did not possess a license to screen films on its premises.

The two films that were scheduled to be screened were S/HE, a 10-min short about a 12-year old girl who found herself wanting to be a boy; and Lost in You, a lesbian-themed feature film by director Zhu Yiye. The films will be screened on Friday night at A Tale of 4 Cities which organisers say would be “safe” as the establishment is licensed to provide entertainment including film screenings.

Another film session scheduled for Friday night at Kathleen's 5 has been cancelled.

SHAIC officials on Wednesday also visited Barefoot Studio where The Laramie Project, a play about people’s reactions to the brutal murder of a gay student named Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998, was to be performed on Friday night. The venue’s management was similarly warned of "severe consequences" should it allow the event to go on as it didn’t possess the appropriate license for entertainment.

The spokesperson told Fridae that the several uniformed police officers visited Frangipani on Tuesday night during the Open Mic Literary Hour event but did not disrupt the event in any way.

On Thursday, two other venues A Tale of 4 Cities and Shanghai Studio were visited by the police in the day time. The wine tasting event went on without a hitch but Shanghai Studio, which was to host an 'Open Bar' that night, decided to cancel the event and close for the day.

Other events of the weeklong festival held from Jun 7-14 are expected to go on as planned.

Despite the authorities’ intervention, organisers are optimistic given the festival is the first of its kind in China. The state-run English language newspaper China Daily had covered the festival in detail with a front page story and editorial saying the festival “should be a source of great encouragement to the tens of millions of… homosexual men and women” in the country and has sent the rest of it’s population a “strong signal… about greater acceptance and tolerance.” The festival has however been given the silent treatment in the Chinese-language press.

The festival spokesperson told Fridae: “We've been absolutely overwhelmed and encouraged by China Daily's positive coverage on Shanghai Pride. We understand this is the first time a gay story has made it to the front page of a party mouthpiece and this bodes well for greater acceptance of the LGBT community in Chinese society.”

The weeklong festival will culminate in ‘The Big Bash’ on Sat, Jun 13 @ Cotton’s and ‘Queer Olympiad’ on Sun, Jun 14 @ Xuhui Gym and Swimming Pool.

Related articles in China Daily:
- Gay party starts to lose its sparkle (Jun 12)
- Pride of tolerance (Jun 10)
- Shanghai hosts first gay pride festival (Jun 10)


Reader's Comments

1. 2009-06-13 18:29  
Legal technicalities to prevent GLBT Pride events indicate one very true thing: the govt. is paying VERY careful attention. With Shanghai preparing for the 2010 World Expo next year, they should also be reminded that the gay WORLD is also paying very careful attention to them! How will they handle:

a) the bad press from discrimination?
b) GLBT representatives in various countries' expoisitons?
c) a possible boycott?

Just thinking OUT LOUD here in Hong Kong...
2. 2009-06-14 07:05  
to quote a great american "DUH!" (Homer Simpson) China is controlled by a communist dictatorship..any official interference in Gay events who's surprised...it's expected think your selvexs lucky usually they just drive in the tanks.. Ala.. Tianamen square, Tibet and the 'Wigan' home land
Comment edited on 2009-06-14 07:11:59
3. 2009-06-14 19:21  
Agree with aztlan_oz. What has been highlighted in this article,sadly, is only tip of the iceberg of grave injustices happening in Chinese society today. My heart goes out to the Chinese PLUs.

4. 2009-06-15 02:58  
China's situation is unique. It's a different world out there. After all, with 1.3 billion population, it is no easy task on the part of the government. Granted the gross violation of human rights in the past, the new China has made huge progress in terms of socio-political and economic reforms. (I had taught English in China for a year in 2006!) China is well aware of the eyes of the world on her and the government is trying its best to keep up a good image. The authorities' interference is to be expected and they are keeping a close eye on the LGBT movement which is not yet acceptable in Chinese society. Nevertheless, they are showing great restraints in that they did not arrest the organizers or revoke business licenses. China's acceptance of LGBT is not a matter of if but when. It will come slowly but surely. I am so glad that China Daily covered the event on the front page with a positive note.
5. 2009-06-16 07:22  
What a great Shanghai Pride!! I went to the Cotton Restaurant on Saturday and it was amazing. Huge rainbow flags all around the place, loud music and so many people. What a great event. Then we went to the Glamour Bar and it was so packed. The huge crowd poured onto the street blocking the traffic.

There was not a single anti-gay demonstration like in other countries. I think the atmosphere was very welcoming. Nice for a change.
6. 2009-06-16 09:12  
With the SHANGHAI FILM FESTIVAL currently taking place, I do hope GLBT's will take advantage of the MEDIA SPOTLIGHT and alert the foreign actors, actresses and directors of the treatment GAY FILM was given by Shanghai authorities.

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