'Spring' has sprung for Lou Ye

Chinese director delivers another controversial pic

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CANNES -- Controversy has dogged the career of Lou Ye, the Chinese director whose "Spring Fever" plays in competition Thursday. But despite all the ingredients being in place for another explosive cocktail -- graphic hetero- and homosexual sex, a banned filmmaker premiering his film overseas -- the film's producer, Sylvain Bursztejn, reckons that the official reactions to the pic will be less than feverish.

"This is a real love story, like 'Jules Et Jim' except this time there are two men and one woman. It is a movie about how people fall in love, how hard love can be and how powerful an emotion that is," Bursztejn said. "Sure the sex is graphic, but that is not meant as any kind of gesture to the censors."

Lou has had his share of run-ins with the Chinese censors, having twice been banned from working as a director in China, after "Suzhou River" and again as a result of "Summer Palace," which played in Cannes two years ago.

Financed from France, "Spring" was made openly in China, but without official permission. "Lou has no right to make an official movie for the China market and he has not tried to do so," Bursztejn said. "He can't work or earn money from Chinese investment or the China market."

"It has not been submitted for censorship. And so we've heard nothing from the censors," Bursztejn said. "I suppose we might hear from them after Thursday."