Screening without China
Transregional Cinematic Smuggling between Cold War Taiwan and Colonial Hong Kong
Keywords:Cold War, Cultural Revolution, Hong Kong cinema, film censorship, propaganda, 冷戰, 文化大革命, 香港電影, 電影審查, 政治宣傳
How can research into film policy inform us about the nature of power and cultural politics regarding film censorship? How does censorship affect the aesthetics and identity of film-making produced under political and market constraints? Focusing on the geopolitical regions of British Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China, this article delineates the impact of British colonial film censorship and the politics of cinematically representing revolutionary China during the Cold War. It reveals that British Hong Kong censors changed their strategy in the 1970s and 80s from suppressing mainland Chinese films to inhibiting films that might offend China from screening in Hong Kong. The evidence points to a distinctive picture of transregional smuggling and cinematic boundary-crossing, namely, the dangerous trafficking and interception of movie images, ideologies, and propaganda. Film screening of ‘China’ in Hong Kong and Taiwan was subject to strict official surveillance to quarantine undesirable public visuality and political discourses. The study examines film’s ambiguous expressions of China and Chineseness as it constantly negotiated the factors of colonialism, Chinese nationalism, and Cold War transnational politics.
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