Gulf & Middle East
Chinese director's 'Blind Mountain' screens at Cannes
May 21, 2007 - 10:17:02 AM

Cannes, May 21 - Chinese director Li Yang's hard-hitting 'Mang Shan' - movie about the trade in buying wives in China was screened at the 60th Cannes Film Festival Sunday, bringing two levels of Chinese society into sharp contrast.

The movie narrates the harrowing story of young graduate Bai Xuemei, played by Huang Lu, who is tricked and sold as a 'wife' to a remote village.

Changes unleashed by the country's move to modernize have not yet reached the village in northern China where she is forced to lead the life of a sex slave among people she finds 'barbaric'.

But rapes and beatings never break her will to escape. After many attempts to flee, her would-be rescuer finds himself plunged into yet another twist in this tragic story.

Bai finally takes matters into her own hands, prompting spontaneous applause from the Cannes audience and illustrating the pitch reached in the film.

Director Li said of his film: 'It is a critique of both the 'money reigns supreme' attitude prevalent in Chinese society and also a relentless expose of the ugliness, greed, brutality and treachery in human nature.

It is a call for the return to basic human values, love and conscience in our society,' he added in a statement.

The film's screening in Cannes has highlighted the battles Chinese directors face with the censors in Beijing.

Li's first film, 'Mang Jing' -, won a prestigious Silver Bear at the Berlin film festival in 2003. The tough drama set in China's illegal coal industry was shot without permission.

After Li showed 'Blind Shaft' at the Edinburgh film festival in 2003, questions from western viewers focused on political rather than artistic issues.

The script for 'Blind Mountain' was approved, but Chinese censors wanted significant changes to the finished film, demanding a more upbeat ending and other alterations that would lighten its exposure of Chinese society.

Li remains confident that 'Blind Mountain' will win state approval. If the negotiations with state censors fail, Li, like others before him, will probably earn more from international sales and simply carry on with his next unofficial project in China.

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