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October 16, 2009

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Ban a blessing for filmmaker

A DIRECTOR who was banned for a film he made in 1993 says his nine-year absence from the movies was a welcome chance to catch up on foreign works.

Tian Zhuangzhuang ran foul of Chinese censors with "The Blue Kite." His next movie, a remake of the classic, "Springtime in a Small Town," was released in 2002.

Promoting his new movie in Hong Kong, Tian told students yesterday that he used the nine-year gap to learn about foreign cinema.

"I spent those years not making movies watching movies. It was a great pleasure. Even though there weren't that many good Chinese movies at the time, there were quite a few good movies from all over the world," Tian said in a talk at the University of Hong Kong.

The 57-year-old director also served as a producer for young Chinese filmmakers during the period.

Tian said shooting movies was a tremendous burden.

"Intentionally or not, you bear the responsibility of spreading your culture. It's quite difficult. If I could choose again, I'd rather be a viewer than a filmmaker," Tian said.

"My biggest revelation was that I could live without making movies."

Based on a Japanese short story, Tian's new movie, "The Warrior and the Wolf," is a mythological epic set in ancient China about a general who becomes a wolf after making love to a tribal woman.


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