Last week I brought you the news that Chinese director Li Yu's new feature, Lost in Beijing, was banned by Chinese censors from being screened at Berlin. Their options were few -- give up on the German fest, go anyway and face a moviemaking ban like Lou Ye or edit their film into something the censors would find acceptable -- which would be hard considering the fact that the movie is about a love story set in a Beijing massage parlour. However, in a shocking twist, it seems that the Chinese censors are lightening up a little.

They've offered a compromise with Li Yu -- if she cuts 15 minutes from her film that deals with class conflict and rape, then they will allow it to head to Berlinale. According to Fang, this means cutting two specific pieces of the film -- a love affair between a window-washer and a rich man's wife, and a country girl's descent into prostitution after getting fired from a big-city job. Fang is now heading to Bangkok to rush the film through its final postproduction, and to dicuss options with the film's mainland distributor. According to Films Distribution, even if the Berlin audiences see an edited version, a director's cut will be screened for potential buyers -- but the final say remains with Li Yu, who could face serious professional consequences if she does.

As for the censors, Fang thinks that the Film Bureau is trying to save face by offering a compromise. He, therefore, gives "a little credit to the FIlm Bureau officials, but none to the review committee." Why? Fang says that other cuts demanded by the committee included a close-up of China's national flag and a Mercedes driving over a puddle in a dark alley. Sounds strange, doesn't it? According to Fang, these decisions reflect China's plan to present a clean/stable country for next year's Beijing Olympics. Luckily these censors weren't in LA in '84, because they probably would've shut down half of Hollywood.