Chinese Netizens criticize unauthorized film adaptation of real-life murder case
Published: Aug 12, 2021 06:31 PM
A poster on internet of the film Playground Photo: Sina Weibo

A poster on internet of the film Playground Photo: Sina Weibo

, a new film inspired by a real life murder case in Central China's Hunan Province has recently become a hot topic on Sina Weibo, earning nearly 300 million views on the social media platform. However, a majority of the attention has so far been negative after netizens learned that the film had not received permission from the victim's family.  

The film is based on a murder investigation in Huaihua, Central China's Hunan Province in 2019. In June 2019, a body was discovered in a local school playground that was later revealed to belong to Deng Shiping, a school teacher who went missing 16 years prior. After an investigation, police found the killer, a relative of the principal of the school, who confessed to killing Deng because the latter was lodging complaints about financial and quality issues concerning the playground's construction. 

The film has already applied to the China Film Administration for permission to shoot. At present, the script has been completed and casting is in progress. Shooting is expected to start in October. 

However, on Wednesday Deng's daughter told media that the studio behind the film had not gotten authorization from the victim's family, including herself. She also expressed her concerns that the movie may defame her father by misrepresenting him. 

The news about the film soon became a hot topic on Sina Weibo as netizens discussed the ethics behind making money off a real life tragedy without informing or compensating the victim's family. 

"This is very disrespectful; someone's tragedy should not be freely used by someone for their own benefit. It is unethical, and even worse because the team did not want Deng's daughter to learn about this at all," posted a netizen on Sina Weibo.  

"Even if it was public news, it feels like the studio is feeding off the victim's blood. It could get even worse if they portray Deng's character incorrectly. That would hurt the family all over again," Gao, a netizen, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

The movie's character director Dai Xiaochen has confirmed that Playground is an adaption of Deng's murder. 

Some other netizens also questioned whether the film will face an infringement suit by using the real incident for its story.

"One important point, if the movie distorts or damages Deng's personal reputation, or invades the victim's privacy in a way that ruins the victim's reputation, then the family could bring a suit," Xu Ling, a law expert, told the Global Times on Thursday.