Luca Guadagnino’s Oscar-winning romance Call Me By Your Name has been yanked from the Beijing International Film Festival’s lineup, a source close to the movie confirmed to Deadline. No official reason has been given for the move. However, it comes amid a shift in oversight of China’s film industry to the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party’s Central Committee — and as increased control is expected to be exercised over content. Citing an unidentified source, Reuters reported Call Me By Your Name was pulled after the screening proposal submitted was not approved by regulators.
China has a notorious history with censorship — generally as it involves sex, violence and the portrayal of China itself — but its record on homosexual-themed content and LGBT matters has been mixed. Last year, the People’s Daily official newspaper took pains to say local censors kept the “gay moment” in Disney’s Beauty And The Beast despite controversy in other markets.
Then in June, the official China Netcasting Services Association released a regulation banning online service providers from releasing programs that “present abnormal sexual relations or behavior.” Homosexual relations were included under the heading, the Brookings Institute noted at the time. There are about 70M LGBT people on the Chinese mainland.
Wu Jian, a Beijing-based film analyst, told Reuters today that Call Me By Your Name “is in deviation from the policy environment in China,” adding that it was “quite embarrassing for China” that it had been pulled.
Moving movie oversight to the CPC’s Propaganda (or publicity) division is a means to maximize film’s special role in propaganda, ideas, culture and entertainment and develop a prosperous movie industry, China Film Group said last week. But it also likely signals overall increased censorship and the promotion of homegrown patriotic films.
All of this is happening in the wake of changes in the central government’s structure and notably China’s vote to abolish presidential term limits. The latter sets China on course to follow President Xi Jinping’s hard-line authoritarian rule for an indefinite period of time.
Deadline has reached out to the Beijing festival.