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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

A Mysterious Absence


WHY HAVE THE CHINESE authorities barred the country's leading director, Zhang Yimou, and his latest production, Keep Cool, from the Cannes Film Festival? The decision -- by Beijing's Ministry of Radio, Film and Television and the Film Bureau -- has left many industry observers perplexed. Zhang's modern-day comedy about a man who falls in love with a woman and is then beaten up by her business associates has no political message. The censors gave no official reason for the action, though one source in Beijing was quoted as saying it might be because the film was thought unlikely to win.

Zhang has been accused in the past of portraying China as a backward society. In 1994, the judges in Cannes lauded his To Live, an outstanding work that tracked the hardships of a family through the upheavals that followed the 1949 Communist revolution. Mainland star Ge You won the best-actor award, but the Chinese censors disapproved of the film and banned Zhang from attending the festival. As punishment, his movies now have to be produced and funded in China, where money is scarce and production facilities outdated.

Shanghai Triad was slated to open the 1995 New York Film Festival. Again, authorities prohibited Zhang from attending -- apparently angered that the festival was to screen The Gate of Heavenly Peace, a documentary about the suppression of the 1989 democracy movement.

Zhang first triumphed in the West with his 1988 Red Sorghum, an exquisitely chronicled love story set in rural China. In 1991, his Raise the Red Lantern took the Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for an Oscar as best foreign film.

Given his problems in China, where most of his films are banned, why doesn't Zhang do like Chen Kaige and move overseas? His reply: "China is my earth. If I leave it, I will die."

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COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

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JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness


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