Draft law aims to promote film industry, regulate content

Global TimesEditor: Li Yan

China’s State Council on Tuesday approved a draft law which aims to promote the country’s film industry over two decades after it was first drafted, a move insiders said will attempt to better regulate the industry and boost international cooperation.

The cabinet said that they will submit the draft to the lawmakers of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress for ratification but did not reveal the specific contents of the latest draft.

China’s film industry has developed rapidly in recent years with domestic box office revenues growing from 1 billion yuan ($157 million) in 2003 to 29.6 billion yuan in 2014, media reported.

Analysts say that the highly-anticipated law has finally moved forward in response to the advancement of the film industry and will promote reforms of the market, while many still call for a film classification system to help filmmakers understand what kind of content they can include in their works.

Regulate film market

According to media reports, the law was first drafted early in 1984 and was last publicly issued by the State Council in 2011 to solicit public opinions. It is not yet clear what changes, if any, have been made to the law’s text since 2011.

According to the 2011 draft, a number of financial and tax measures, including preferential land policies to help companies build more cinemas and an increase in government-funded film projects, will be implemented to promote the industry’s development

The draft also said that the number of certificates that film producers need to acquire before they can make movies will be reduced, and the certificates and administrative approval procedures that will still be required will be easier to navigate.

Che Jingxing, popular Chinese film and TV series director, told the Global Times that “the law will deepen reforms of the film industry and help create a fair and well-ordered competitive market.”

Che’s opinion was echoed by Chen Qiuping, head of the scriptwriter branch of the Beijing Film Association, who said that the law will legally codify the industry’s conventions and policies.

Che also said that although China’s film industry has been growing by 30 percent annually, lots of problems have gradually emerged. “For example, the increasing risks in investment, firms concealing box office revenue and a cluster of crude films… all these problems surfaced due to the lack of a law,” he said.

According to the 2011 draft, cinemas which screen pre-movie advertisements will be fined up to 200,000 yuan and can also have their film-screening licenses revoked, and they could also face punishment for infringing film-related intellectual property rights and concealing box office revenue.

Yu Hao, vice president of Phoenix Legend Films, told news portal cri.cn that the law might help his company cooperate with overseas filmmakers if it optimizes the process of getting permission to work with an overseas company, as the draft text claims it will.

The draft also requires local governments to boost the market in rural areas by screening one movie in every village monthly. It also demands authorities include films in public education and make sure students watch films “beneficial for their growth” twice each semester.

Classification system

However, some insiders said that the draft has added restrictions regarding content, which should be further explained.

According to the statement, films which encourage religious fanaticism or damage religious harmony are prohibited. Films which depict drug use, violence and gambling or contain pornographic content or criminal methods are also banned.

Li Junlin, another film director, told the Global Times that “the draft law fails to regulate what level of violence is allowed and define what kind of footage or lines goes against the Constitution or the Party.”

Li called for the establishment of a film rating system which will give Chinese movie studios more latitude to create diverse films.

“Many filmmakers are calling for a rating system to break away from the current rigorous examination system. However, it is a complicated problem. Hopefully, the system will be added in the amendment of the law,” Chen said.

A film that depicted the affair between historical beauty Yang Yuhuan and a Tang Dynasty (618-907) emperor, was required to remove a scene that showed the pair having sex while on a horse, with the emperor tearing off Yang’s clothes, after it was leaked and posted online.


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