Chinese quit DocFest

Delegation angry over dissident film.

by Jennie Kermode

There are six Chinese films screening at this year's Sheffield Docfest as part of a strand dedicated to celebrating the bes of the Asian country's recent work. The Chinese delegation, however, today announced that they would no longer be attending. One of those films is considered unacceptable; it features dissident artist Ai Weiwei.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is directed by Alison Klayman, a US journalist who lived in China for four years. It explores his life and work and has provided him with a unique opportunity to address Western audiences. Restrictive bail conditions mean the artist, who has spent several months in detention, is limited in his ability to communicate online.

"Officially we have been told that the reason the Chinese delegation cancelled is a restriction on the number of trips they can make to Europe," said DocFest director Heather Croall in a statement. "Unofficially... we came under pressure not to show certain films. We resisted the pressure and the films remain in the programme. We are very disappointed that the Chinbese delegation will now not be attending the festival but we remain very hopeful that they will attend in the future."

Also thought to have antagonised the Chinese is Steve Maing's film High Tech, Low Life, which investigates the work of Chinese citizen journalists challenging state censorship to post stories in online bulletins.

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