The geopolitics of a film banned – Aaron Mc Nicholas
In early 1981, a virulent anti-communist film produced in Kuomintang-controlled Taiwan passed inspection by Hong Kong’s film censors for public screenings in the city. In reaching their decision, the censors reasoned that the film covered the Cultural Revolution, which was an historical episode “now condemned as much in China as elsewhere” and the film avoided direct criticism of past or present Chinese leaders. Therefore, there were not sufficient grounds to block the film being shown in Hong Kong.
Such a decision would have been unthinkable for much of Hong Kong’s colonial history. As much as the current generation of Hong Kongers discusses the effect of measures such as the National Anthem Law on freedom of expression, the city’s creative space has never been able to escape geopolitical constraints when it comes to sensitive topics. And there was no doubt that The Coldest Winter in Peking was a piece of political propaganda, produced by Taiwan’s government-run film studio with the aim of painting an unflattering picture of life on the mainland under the Communist bandits.