China requires pre-registration for short films screening overseas
Published: Jul 07, 2024 10:09 PM
People stand in a cinema in Taiyuan, North China's Shanxi Province during the Spring Festival holidays. China's box office revenues exceeded 6 billion yuan ($943.7 million) during the week-long Spring Festival holiday ending Sunday, the China Film Administration announced February 7, 2022.  Photo: cnsphoto

People stand in a cinema in Taiyuan, North China's Shanxi Province during the Spring Festival holidays. Photo: cnsphoto

In a notice issued on Thursday, China's top film regulator said all domestically produced short films must pre-register with domestic authorities for public screenings at film festivals or exhibitions overseas. 

According to the China Film Administration (CFA), the primary domestic production unit or the legal entity that submits the short film to overseas festivals or exhibitions will be responsible for filing the registration materials with the CFA. The submission must be made at least 20 working days before the screening. The materials include an application stamped with the official seal of the applying unit and a copy of the film release permit.

As stated in a document accompanying the notice, applications for short films must also include information such as the name of the film festival or exhibition in both Chinese and English, its date and location as well as a summary of the film's content.

Some observers are on the fence, noting it is too early to tell what the concrete impact of the new rules will be, as it may dampen the enthusiasm of some filmmakers to participate in international film festivals given the troublesome process. It may increase the workload of related authorities in terms of administrative examination and approval.

"Tightening the management of films participating in international festivals can effectively regulate the ­behavior of deliberately catering to certain values and preferences held by Western society just for the sake of getting selected or awarded overseas," Zhang Peng, a film researcher at Nanjing University's National Research Center of Cultural Industries, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

These measures send a positive signal regarding the governance of film submissions for international festivals. Regulating content and ensuring that it resonates with national values will contribute to better representing China on the global stage and reflecting the nation's stories and heritage, Zhang added.

The new rules are in accordance with the country's Film Industry Promotion Law, the first set of laws and regulations targeting China's cultural industry and which came into effect in 2017, along with the Provisions on the Administration of Radio, Film and Television Festivals (Exhibitions) and Program Exchange Activities that was enacted in 2004 and amended in 2016. 

According to the law and the provisions, the state supports domestic films participating in international film festivals and exhibitions. The film must obtain a release permit after it is completed, noted the statement. 

The Film Industry Promotion Law is the first of its kind in the country, which supports the making of films championing excellent Chinese culture and socialist core values

Those who engage in filmmaking should serve the people and socialism, prioritizing social benefits and achieving harmony between economic returns and contributions to society, the law stipulates. 

The law also stipulates that no films should contain content that "jeopardizes national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity," releases national secrets, endangers state security, damages national dignity, honor and interests, or advocates terrorism and extremism.