Winnie the Pooh movie banned in Hong Kong amid President Xi links (video)

The British horror film Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey has been cancelled by Hong Kong prompting speculation that the movie was pulled because of the resemblance between the character and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It’s not the first time China has scrapped a movie.

US netizens made such comparisons between Winnie the Pooh and President Xi when the latter visited former US President Barack Obama in America in 2013 and it stuck. The 69 year old leader of the Chinese Communist Party is said to be sensitive to the resemblance

The movie, based on English author AA Milne’s cartoon creation Winnie the Pooh, has been subverted into a British slasher film. It was scheduled to be released in the former British colony tomorrow, reported Aljazeera. However, Moviematic, the organizer of a pre-release screening of the film, announced yesterday that the screening had been cancelled due to “technical reasons.”

VII Pillars Entertainment, the local distributor of the film, also confirmed the cancellation on social media without providing further details.

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Broadway Circuit and Emperor Cinemas, two of the major cinema chains in Hong Kong, removed references to the film or its screening from their websites. However, a spokesperson for Hong Kong’s Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration (OFNAA) stated that “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” had been approved for release, and the office cannot comment on the decisions of cinemas not to screen the film.

The spokesperson said…

“The arrangements of cinemas in Hong Kong on the screening of individual films with certificates of approval in their premises are the commercial decisions of the cinemas concerned, and OFNAA would not comment on such arrangements.”

Winnie the Pooh has been censored in mainland China since 2013 when a meme comparing Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh went viral on Chinese social media, leading to a crackdown on the use of the character in China.

Winnie the Pooh movie banned in Hong Kong amid President Xi links (video) | News by Thaiger

Howard Elias, a local film reviewer, said on his blog he had been unable to reach the film’s distributor, but he suspected he had been “pressured by our so-called ‘patriots’ who would be unhappy about Pooh being depicted on screen in such an unsavoury manner.”

Ng Kwok Kwan, director of the Centre for Film and Moving Image Research in Hong Kong, said cinemas may be exercising self-censorship.

“It unavoidably has sparked speculation about censorship, more precisely self-censorship, in which the cinema house has pulled out the film because of any external pressures, or negotiations.

“The act of pulling a licensed film may not be too surprising in the current situation or has become a decent way of respecting the red line. Should the censorship bureau [have] banned the film earlier, it would have ignited more controversies, speculation, and pressures in society and internationally.”

Hong Kong was promised rights and freedoms not available in mainland China as a condition of its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. However, since the introduction of a Beijing-decreed national security law in 2020, the territory has cracked down hard on free expression. While the law officially targets subversion, secession, colluding with foreign forces, and terrorism, it has been used to wipe out practically all political opposition and dissent towards Beijing in the former British colony.

In 2021, Hong Kong’s legislature passed a new film censorship law, raising further fears for the future of the local film industry, which was once widely acclaimed as the “Hollywood of the East.” The law has given authorities more power to censor films based on their political content. Last year, Hong Kong’s international film festival dropped two films from its lineup after the government refused to approve the screenings.

China has form for banning movies. In 2019 censors banned the Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood because it believed the movie was disrespectful to the late Hong Kong martial arts expert and actor Bruce Lee.

Marvel’s Black Panther and Call Me By Your Name are two other well-known movies banned by the mainland.

Winnie the Pooh movie banned in Hong Kong amid President Xi links (video) | News by Thaiger

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Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.

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