The release of the slasher film Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey has been cancelled in Hong Kong for “technical” reasons.
Moviematic, which had organised a screening of the film, reported the cancellation on its social media page.
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The movie’s distributor in Hong Kong, VII Pillars Entertainment, saw the ticket-booking link on its Facebook page go down, with a message saying ticketing was temporarily unavailable.
The country’s censorship law reveals its desire for China to be taken seriously at all costs and now bans movies that “endorse, support, glorify, encourage and incite activities that might endanger national security”.
This includes any startling likenesses with cartoons and aggressively mediocre horror films.
Indeed, Chinese censors have previously targeted the film’s main character and banned him because of memes revealing the uncanny resemblance between English author AA Milne’s bumbling bear and President Xi Jinping.
These comparisons kicked off in 2013, when Xi visited the US to meet his then-counterpart Barack Obama. Online commentators compared them both to Pooh and Tigger.
In 2014, during Xi’s meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, another image started doing the rounds where Xi was compared to Pooh and Abe was portrayed as the pessimistic donkey, Eeyore.
As these memes became popular, Chinese censors started banning them on the internet. HBO was banned in China after comedian John Oliver mocked the Chinese regime’s sensitivity to the cartoon.
Since then, many have used the image of Pooh to signal dissent.
Several films also have been prevented from being shown in the Chinese special administrative region after a new censorship law came into effect in 2021 – recent films like Kiwi Chow’s documentary Revolution of Our Times, or Chloé Zhao’s Oscar-winning Nomadland.
Shortly after Zhao’s historic win at the 2021 Oscars – she became only the second woman and first woman of colour to win the Best Director and Best Picture Oscar – Chinese internet users began to question Zhao’s citizenship and dug up interviews in which Zhao described China as “a place where there are lies everywhere”. References to Zhao in Chinese media were censored following her Oscar win.
Two films were dropped from Hong Kong’s international film festival last year after failing to get approval from authorities.
Additional sources • Reuters