Shanghai film festival pulls Japan movie after it appears on government blacklist

SHANGHAI (AFP) - The Shanghai film festival has yanked the Japanese anime movie Attack On Titan from screening, an organiser said today, after it appeared on a "black list" issued by Chinese cultural authorities.

The 2014 animated movie about monstrous "titans" making humans their food was scheduled to be screened at the Shanghai International Film Festival which started on Saturday and runs until Sunday.

Ju Li, director of selection for the festival, told AFP that showings of Attack On Titan were cancelled, but added he was "unclear" about the reasons. He declined to comment further.

The film still appears in an official listing of around 400 films for the festival, but the show times were dropped from a screening guide.

Days before the festival started, China's Ministry of Culture released a list of 38 films banned for depicting "violence, pornography, terrorist activities" as well as "harming public morality."

The ministry posted the list, which puts Attack On Titan at No. 17, on its website Wednesday.

China has no movie rating system. Cultural authorities censor films and excise content deemed politically sensitive or obscene on a case-by-case basis.

In 2013, Chinese theatres mysteriously pulled director Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained and then later resumed showing the film with cuts to a scene showing star Jamie Foxx nude.

In the James Bond spy thriller Skyfall - partly shot in Shanghai - authorities cut a scene showing prostitution in Macau, a special administrative region of China, and a line in which Bond's nemesis mentions being tortured by Chinese security agents.

The Shanghai film festival is China's longest-running event of its kind but industry officials say censorship is one of the reasons why it lags behind others in the Asian region, which screen movies with more edgy content.

In another controversial move, organisers of the festival have advised South Korean filmmakers with movies in the event to stay away due to concerns over Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers), a spokesman told AFP.