On Tuesday, the sudden cancellation of public showings of a horror movie that includes the character Winnie the Pooh in Hong Kong triggered conversations about a rise in censorship within the city.
The organizer of the event announced on Instagram that a screening that was planned for Tuesday evening in a cinema was canceled due to “technical reasons.” Kenny Ng, who is a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University’s academy of film, declined to make assumptions about the cause of the cancellation. However, he proposed that the method of suppressing criticism seemed to involve making commercial decisions.
The film’s distributor informed The Associated Press through an email response that it had received notification from cinemas that the film could not be screened as planned, but it was unclear why. The cinema chains implicated in the cancellation did not respond immediately to the request for comment.
VII Pillars Entertainment, the film distribution company, expressed regret on Facebook over the cancellation of the screening of “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” in Hong Kong and nearby Macao, which was scheduled to be released on Thursday.
Reportedly, China refused to release the film “Christopher Robin” in 2018, which also included the character Winnie the Pooh. Numerous residents perceive the Winnie the Pooh character as a playful mockery of China’s President Xi Jinping, and Chinese authorities have previously imposed short-term restrictions on social media searches for the bear in the country.
The government imposed stricter guidelines in 2021, enabling censors to prohibit films that are deemed to have violated the far-reaching law. Ng highlighted that there has been an increase in incidents of censorship in the city in the previous two years, primarily directed towards non-commercial films, including independent short films. “When a red line is drawn, there will be more restrictions,” he commented.