Censorship in the Chinese film and TV industry implemented by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is fairly straightforward. Its main governing body, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), is responsible for the import quotas of foreign films and control of local productions. Fictional films made in mainland China need to obtain permits before shooting and be revised after editing. Upon approval, SARFT issues a screening permit required for theatrical release. This two-step censorship system offers some levels of security to the investors and filmmakers, as they can abort an unprofitable project early on. However, documentary films will be reviewed only after it is finished due to the uncertainty of the storyline. Rejected films are not allowed to circulate in the market. The public can only access those films via cloud drives and underground film clubs. This paper examines the regulatory mechanism and the underground distribution of censored documentary films. Self-censorship and unintentional intellectual property infringement are also discussed.
Mo Li, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain