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‘Moonlight’ Testing China Censors Because Gay Themes Considered ‘Not Politically Correct’

"They think 'Moonlight' is unsuitable for the China market and not politically correct," said a source close to China Film Group.

“Moonlight” Golden Globe 2017 Best Drama



Unlike places like Malaysia, where the Film Censorship Board requested Disney to cut the “gay moment” from “Beauty and the Beast” before its release, and Alabama’s Henagar Drive-In Theatre, which decided to not screen Bill Condon’s film for the same reason, China recently saw the theatrical release of the live-action remake of the Disney classic despite the fact that depiction of gay relationships on TV is prohibited. Even the People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper, gave the film its blessing. “Controversial gay moment kept in Disney’s #BeautyAndTheBeast… requires no guidance for minors,” tweeted the publication, as reported by “The Hollywood Reporter.”

READ MORE: ‘Moonlight’ Actors Trevante Rhodes and André Holland on the Film’s Universal Message

However, “Moonlight” may not run with the same luck in the Asian country. According to THR, China’s censors are exploring whether or not to allow Barry Jenkins’ Best Picture Oscar winner, which centers around a young, black gay man, to screen in the country. “They think ‘Moonlight’ is unsuitable for the China market and not politically correct,” a source close to China Film Group, a state-backed distributor, told the magazine.

A rep for A24 — the company that financed, produced and is handling international distribution on the film — told the magazine that “at this moment, there is no tangible update” on the release of the film in China. The country’s streaming giant iQiyi acquired the exclusive online rights to “Moonlight” shortly after the film’s Academy Award win last month. However, sources told THR that plans for its online release are not certain at this point. The film was also slated to screen during the Beijing International Film Festival in April, but organizers say the screening is “still unconfirmed.”

READ MORE: ‘Purple Moonlight’: Barry Jenkins Extended Chopped and Screwed Soundtrack After Best Picture Win — Listen

“So many international films are ‘a little bit gay’ these days, if the censors insisted on blocking all of it, one day soon there wouldn’t be American film showing in China,” Chinese indie director Fan Popo told the magazine. The filmmaker, whose LGBTQ documentary “Mama Rainbow” was pulled from the country’s streaming services in 2014, added that allowing “Moonlight” to screen in China “would also be good news for the whole Chinese movie audience” since “‘Moonlight’ is a beautiful and thoughtful film.”

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