Chinese Director to Oliver Stone: Mind Your Own Business

Carlo Allegri/Invision/AP
Oliver Stone

Ning Hao challenged the Hollywood director's recent criticisms of the Chinese film industry, saying "foreigners alone don't decide good and bad films" and that securing free speech in China will be a gradual process.

Chinese director Ning Hao has urged Oliver Stone to mind his own business after the Wall Street director caused controversy last week at the Beijing International Film Festival by calling for the Chinese industry to deal with its history and address the painful legacy of state founder Chairman Mao Zedong.

“He is being belligerent. If we wanted to shoot a film about 9/11, would they be happy? Some questions or areas are sensitive. And China’s problem is not that simple,” Ning said, quoted in the Global Times newspaper, which is operated by China’s ruling Communist Party.

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“He said Chinese films need to make their direction clear. Good films and bad films can’t be all decided by foreigners. Chinese films need to get back the right of free speech little by little,” said Ning, whose breakthrough movie was the low-budget comedy Crazy Stone.

Stone raised hackles at the Beijing fest last week when he said Chinese filmmakers need to deal with thorny historical issues such as the excesses of the Mao era and the Cultural Revolution he imposed on the country.

He said Mao had been lionized in 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," said Stone during a panel discussion at the festival.

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In October, China's Film Bureau agreed to release Ning’s road movie, No Man Land, three and a half years after it was supposed to open, after Ning cut some of the controversial violence and changed the ending.

The movie, which was finished in April 2010, tells of the adventures that befall a man driving to the far west of China, but it fell foul of the censors, who thought the movie was trashy and disliked its depiction of "depraved" individuals and accused Ning of nihilism and forgetting his social responsibility as a film director. The altered film featured in competition at the Berlinale in February.