China cinema chides Sharon Stone

Actress links China quake to 'karma'

CORRECTED 6:04 p.m. ET June 2, 2008

HONG KONG -- Sharon Stone, who last year was a guest of the Shanghai International Film Festival, now has a slim chance of her films showing in China, industry leaders say, after the Hollywood actress suggested the devastating May 12 earthquake there could have been the result of bad "karma."

Stone's remarks, made Thursday at the Festival de Cannes, pondered a link between the earthquake -- which to date has taken the lives of more than 65,000 -- and China's treatment of ethnic Tibetans and their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, whom she called "a good friend."

"I'm not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else," Stone said in a brief red-carpet interview with Cable Entertainment News of Hong Kong. "And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and then I thought, is that karma? When you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?"

Her remarks triggered anger across the Chinese-language media and were called "inappropriate" by Ng See-Yuen, founder of the UME Cineplex, one of China's biggest urban cinema chains.

Ng, who is also chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, told The Hollywood Reporter that the future chance of Stone's films showing in China was slim, adding that actors should not bring personal politics to comments about a natural disaster that has left 5 million Chinese homeless.

Ng said UME, which has branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, would not show Stone's films if they failed to obtain a release permit in China.

China's Film Bureau each year approves only 20 imported films in whose boxoffice revenue overseas distributors may share a percentage.

Largely ignored by the Chinese media were the 50-year-old "Basic Instinct" actress' closing remarks in the interview at Cannes. Stone said she cried when she got a letter from the Tibetan Foundation asking her to help the quake victims.

"Sometimes you have to learn to put your head down and be of service, even to people who aren't nice to you. That's a big lesson for me," Stone said.