CANCELED or CENSORED? The Fate of Old Beijing: A Vanishing World Documentary Screening & Dialog

Hutong Screening Delayed


Sadly today’s event “The Fate of Old Beijing: A Vanishing World Documentary Screening & Dialog” has been canceled or perhaps censored. This event has come during a politically sensitive time and although I don’t have all the details, local press has been proving us with some information from some unknown sources.

Today was suppoesed to be a screening of the hutong project I’ve been working on:

On Saturday, March 19 I am excited to present a long term project I’ve been working on with journalist Kit Gilllet. This project, co-produced with the Asia Society will be published shortly at their site at which time I will go into more detail on the subject and filming; however, for those in Beijing there will be a live screening next week.

Global Times picked up the event with a feature last Monday:

Two Western journalists, annoyed by what they saw as sensational and sloppy reporting about the destruction of Beijing’s old neighborhoods, have shot a series of three short videos intended to add nuance to the issue. The resulting project, A Vanishing World, portrays the dilemmas faced by residents who are reluctant to leave their old single-story courtyard homes, but at the same time crave conveniences such as modern heating, hot water, and indoor toilets.

Unfortunately, the event was canceled after similar articles appeared in both Chinese and English press. The organizers of the event said:

“There was too little time and we rushed too much with the planning,” the center’s PR manager Wu Qiong told the Global Times Wednesday.

Later in the week, Global Times reported some other details:

“After announcing the event, the police requested a review of the film before it could be shown to the public. The police will not give an answer (yes or no) in the current time frame for Saturday’s screening,” the source told the Global Times by e-mail. “The films take on a neutral perspective, with the filmmakers giving a voice to many parties. What those parties say may or may not be what the government wants published or presented without their opinion interjected,” the source said.

While I am sad this event was canceled as it functioned as an educational forum, the full project which includes more media will be published this week on the Asia Society’s Web site.

I hope all who could not attend today’s event will help share the films next week upon release.



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