Fans of filmmaker Johnnie To are expressing concern that the director might be facing a ban following his recent statement at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale).

On 16 February, the director, who was the jury for the Main Competition for this year’s festival, was asked about the importance of cinema during the press conference, and responded, “I think movies are always at the forefront. When there is totalitarianism and people lose their freedom, movies are usually the first to bear the brunt.”

“This is the case in many places. Totalitarianism tries its best to stop your culture. The culture of movies is that it goes directly into the audience, so dictators usually eliminate films first. I think Hong Kong … No, sorry … I think countries and people in the whole world fighting for freedom all support the movie world because it will speak for you,” he added.

Following the said statement, netizens found that Johnnie’s fan page on Weibo could no longer be searched, with the message “This account has been reported of violating the relevant provisions of the Weibo Community guidelines and is now unavailable” appearing on the screen.

It is not known whether the two incidents were just a coincidence. However, there have been some mainland netizens beginning to question the filmmaker, and rumours are now circulating that nine of his upcoming movies, including “Election 3” and “Mad Fate”, may be facing trouble releasing in mainland China.

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Johnnie To produces the Gordon Lam-starrer, ‘Mad Fate’

(Photo Source: MingpaoSINA)