The Academy Award winning director Oliver Stone blasted China’s film industry for glorifying Mao Zedong and failing to address controversial issues during the Beijing International Film Festival.
“Mao Zedong has been lionized in dozens and dozens of Chinese films, but never criticized. It’s about time. You got to make a movie about Mao, about the Cultural Revolution. You do that, you open up, you stir the waters and you allow true creativity to emerge in this country. That would be the basis of real co-production,” Stone said during a panel on co-production, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Stone continued: “It’s all platitudes. We are not talking about making tourist pictures, photo postcards about girls in villages, this is not interesting to us. We need to see the history, to talk about great figures like Mao and the Cultural Revolution. These things happened, they affect everybody in this room. You talk about protecting the people from their history. I can understand you are a new country since 1949. You have to protect the country against the separatist movements, against the Uighurs or the Tibetans, I can understand not doing that subject. But not your history for Christ’s sake.”
Stone made the remarks while speaking on a panel that was moderated by Zhang Xun, president of China Film Co-production Corporation.
Stone has been an ardent critic of the United States. He wrote a controversial book, which was later made into mini-series, called “Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States.” The book and subsequent series tell a revisionist account of American history. Although some critics gave the series positive reviews, others slammed it for historical inaccuracies.
As The Diplomat previously reported, last summer Stone blasted the U.S. military presence in Asia while visiting Jeju Island in South Korea. He also referred to Edward Snowden as a hero.
During his appearance at the Beijing International Film Festival this week, Stone also blasted co-productions, while encouraging China’s film industry to not try to globalize itself. “Most international co-productions are bullshit. They often don’t work. Money is the dictator,” Stone stated, according to Variety. “Iron Man’? ‘Transformers’? Is it really a Chinese experience?”
He continued: “Chinese actors when they try and act in English, it doesn’t have the same meaning. Words are important. I hope you never bastardize yourselves to become American.”
China has vigorously promoted co-productions as a way to build up its film industry. Speaking before Stone at the film festival, former U.S. Senator and current head of the Motion Picture Association of America Chris Dodd hailed co-productions as a major success.
“The growth of co-production and collaborations is one of the great successes of the recent years, great news,” Dodd said. “The more [co-productions there are], the more economy of our films will grow and audiences will appreciate them.”
In 2012, China surpassed Japan as the second largest box-office market after the United States. In that year, Chinese movie theatres recorded $2.7 billion in ticket sales. Last year Dodd told reporters that China is building 10 movie screens nationwide every day.
At the same time, China has protected its domestic film industry by imposing an annual foreign film quota of just 34 movies. This has had the effect of encouraging Hollywood and other foreign film industries to cater to China’s movie censors as a way to help ensure their films are shown in China. It has also encouraged Hollywood and other film industries to sign co-production deals with Chinese studios and production companies.