Beijing Independent Film Festival was forced by police to shut down operations on Friday.
According to reports, authorities arrived at the event with a cease and desist notice shortly after the opening ceremony had concluded. Although people traveled from around the world to attend the festival, police effectively shut everything down before it could get started.
The crowd thought they would be able to watch some of the independent features in private at the Li Xianting Film Foundation. However, police ultimately prevented any of the films from being screened. Authorities reportedly set up surveillance teams to keep an eye on the area.
Festival organizer and actor Wang Hongwei pleaded with police not to shut down the event. After a long conversation, Wang was able to strike up a deal. However, the Beijing Independent Film Festival still won’t proceed as organizers had originally planned.
Instead of screening the films publicly, jury members and reviewers will be given DVDs featuring the flicks scheduled for this year’s event. They will be able to privately watch the movies in groups no larger than five. Once the films have been screened, they can participate in the scheduled discussions and panels.
TimeOut Beijing writer Simon Zhou explained:
We would have to sign contracts promising to abide by these conditions, or face the consequences. If the organisers didn’t agree these conditions, and tried to go ahead with the festival anyway, the electricity from the entire village of Songzhuang would be cut, and Wang Hongwei would be put in prison.
This isn’t the first time the Beijing Independent Film Festival has been forced to shut down ahead of schedule. Last year’s event was hit with a power cut shortly after the event began. Instead of calling it quits, the group decided to screen movies in homes and other private locations.
Organizers prepared for another mysterious power outage this year by purchasing an electric generator. If the police were involved with last year’s problem, then they were much more forward about shutting down the event this time around.
— Jane Valentine Hsu (@janevhsu) August 23, 2013
This is the third year in a row that the Beijing Independent Film Festival has been forced to shut down. Police have yet to comment on the situation as of this writing.
[Image via Shutterstock]