Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

Friday, November 16, 2007

Disappointed "Lust, Caution" moviegoer sues theater and SARFT

071106204a_3_2 Dong Yanbin (董彦斌), a doctoral student at the Faculty of Law of China University of Politics and Law, brought suit on Nov. 13th against Huaxing International Cinemas and the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television. His complaint against the cinema where he saw "Lust, Caution" (色|戒) is that in showing a bowdlerized version (seven minutes of sex scenes were cut), it infringed on his rights as a consumer to information and fair trade. His complaint against the latter is that it has not established a movie rating system and thereby has hurt the public interest.

Dong argues that the right to make judgments about the film belongs to consumers, not to the cinema showing it. He is requesting an apology, 500 yuan in emotional damages, and the availability of the uncut to adult audiences, including himself.

The manager of the cinema has responded, understandably enough, that it's out of the cinema's hands. Every cinema in the country is showing the same cut version, and the decision on that came from SARFT. He also states that it's not SARFT that makes the cuts in these cases, but the director himself, failing which the film will simply not get permission to be shown.

The court's response? They won't hear the case until Dong provides an uncut version as evidence. Clever.

Here's the full story from the Chinese press and another one from the International Herald Tribune. And below is a trailer for the curious. By the way, if you're curious about the lovely music, it's Ella giammai m'amo from Verdi's Don Carlo.

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