Zhang Yimou's 'One Second' dropped from Berlin film festival

BEIJING — The latest film from famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou has been dropped from the Berlin film festival for what the festival described as technical reasons.

A notice on the official Weibo microblogging service account for the movie "One Second" apologized but gave no details other than to say it was not possible to show the film at Berlin.

The festival said the film was pulled because of "technical difficulties encountered during post-production." It said the movie would be replaced at its scheduled Friday and Saturday showings with Zhang's action epic "Hero," which premiered in 2002 at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China's legislature in the heart of Beijing.

Possibly China's best-known filmmaker, Zhang has oscillated between big-budget extravaganzas favored by the ruling Communist Party and edgier fare touching on sensitive political and social topics. His well-known releases include "Shadow," ''House of Flying Daggers," and "Raise the Red Lantern."

"One Second" is set amid the chaos and violence unleashed by Mao Zedong during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, a period rarely discussed in history books or portrayed on film. It's slated for release in China next year.

The party is hyper-sensitive to all direct or implied criticism and its control over the arts includes deciding what films are released based on largely secret criteria. Regulators routinely order what can and can't be shown, with special scrutiny for content pertaining to sex, criminal activity, social dislocation, and perceived questioning of the authority or reputation of the party.

Another Chinese film had also been pulled for Berlin for similar reasons. "Better Days," which portrays alienated youth was "withdrawn for censorship reasons," the trade magazine Variety reported, citing unidentified sources.

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