Annecy Festival Drops Chinese Film After Chinese Government Pressure

Organizers forced to withdraw Chinese animated film from French festival, citing “official pressures.”

Chinese officials pressured French animated film festival Annecy organizers to drop a Chinese film from its program, festival organizers have revealed.

Have a Nice Day by Chinese director Liu Jian was dropped from the world’s biggest animation festival after repeated requests from Chinese officials “in an increasingly firm tone,” according to the organizers.

Patrick Eveno, director of Citia, the festival’s organizer, told French Catholic newspaper La Croix on Tuesday that the festival was put under pressure from Chinese officials.

“Even before we announced its selection, the Chinese authorities were worried about whether we intended to [include it in the] program,” Eveno said.

A statement posted to the Annecy website on May 30 said the decision to drop the black comedy had been imposed on them.

“We must remove one of the feature films selected in [the] competition at Annecy 2017, Liu Jian’s Have a Nice Day, from our program following a decision that has been imposed upon us,” the statement read.

“We’re disappointed about the official pressures that have prevented us from presenting this remarkable film this year and we hope that international audiences will soon have the possibility to see it.”

Have a Nice Day is a 2D, hand-drawn piece made over three years by Liu and a small team of animators, and follows a set of characters chasing a bag of money in a small Chinese town.

An unnamed official from the festival told La Croix that organizers had refused to remove the film from the festival “even though the request was repeated several times and in an increasingly firm tone.”

It was only until the film’s producer asked the organizers to remove the film that the organizers finally acquiesced, according to Eveno.

“From then on, we had no choice. We did not have the right to endanger the film’s team,” he said.

China’s leading auteur director Jia Zhangke recently called for changes to the country’s new film law which makes it harder for productions to be screened at overseas festivals without official clearance.

“As the film law is the official national law, citizens are obliged to comply with it,” Jia told reporters at Cannes last month, “[But] there should be more discussion about whether this particular clause is practical and reasonable.”