Jia Zhangke Confident Controversial 'Touch Of Sin' Will Get China Release

Jia Zhangke

The release of the feature, which won best screenplay honors in Cannes, has been delayed amid censorship issues.

Chinese director Jia Zhangke says he is confident his new film, A Touch of Sin, will get a theatrical release in China, despite touching on topics that often lead to films being banned by the country's censors.

Touch of Sin, which won the best screenplay honor in Cannes, was due to be released in China in early November but has not yet been given a screening date.

Jia told local media that he was still communicating with various government departments to get approval for the film, which is seen as potentially provocative for the normally deeply conservative Chinese market.

"Because this film indeed has some breakthrough moments and challenges, it is very normal if there is some doubt," Jia said. "For me, it is not surprising. What I can do is to communicate with them rationally." He added he believed communication with the censorship department was progressing.

Jia is beloved at international festivals -- his Still Life won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2006 -- but his work is rarely seen in China.

In recent weeks, there have been reports of directives issued by the Chinese government to local media to avoid covering the movie.

There were a fair number of eyebrows raised when Jia said in Cannes that he was sure A Touch of Sin would get a Chinese theatrical release, despite its provocative subject matter.

The movie is told in four loosely linked parts, each based on a true-life violent incident in contemporary China. There are references to corruption, prostitution and the tragic backstory to China's remarkable economic growth, such as a suicide at an assembly plant, similar to the real-life series of suicides at Foxconn in Shenzhen, where Apple products are assembled.

Jia is one of the leading figures of China's so-called "sixth generation" of directors. His early work, such as landmark films The Pickpocket (Xiao Wu, 1997) and Platform (2000), were produced independently, outside of the official Chinese film system.

There are also reports that A Touch of Sin might fall foul of the quota system in self-ruled Taiwan, which allows 10 movies a year from the rival mainland China market to screen there.