In the most anticipated announcement in China since the start of the Great Leap Forward, leadership decided to keep the intake of foreign cinema to only 34 films a year. For reference, Hollywood and Bollywood produce easily over a thousand films annually.
To get the true story on this intense, world-shattering decision, your humble blog author took it upon himself to acquire it straight from the main source. And so I sat down with Cai Wu, 13th Minister of Culture of the People’s Republic of China. A transcript of my interview follows:
TAP: Thank you so much for agreeing to sit down with us, Minister.
CW: I’m very happy to be here.
TAP: Let’s start with the number, why only 34 films a year?
CW: So our most important task within the Ministry is to ensure a complete cultural package is available to our people. But we must ensure the purity of our Chinese traditions. The limit on foreign films is meant to allow some outside influences, while also respecting that China’s ancient culture is our core.
TAP: Ah, I see. So encouraging your own culture has to take precedence.
CW: Of course, we want our people to relate to their heritage.
TAP: Do you fear that by sheltering your domestic film industry from competition that they’ll continue to produce mostly awful flicks that make Escape from New York look like Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony?
CW: (laughs) Now hold on, we’ve had quite a great many award winners in our short open film history.
TAP: Ah, like To Live?
CW: Yes, most certainly. Winner at Cannes you know?
TAP: But your Ministry banned Zhang Yimou for two years after he made it?
CW: Oh, a simple misunderstanding.
TAP: Uh, eh, what?
CW: We just thought his deeper message was a bit revolutionary for our audience at the time. (waves hand) That was nearly twenty years ago!
TAP: I guess I don’t understand, I mean in the flick the Red tool is talking about how he can make three cannonballs out of a lob of homemade steel that looks like a turd. I think Zhang made himself pretty clear.
CW: No, no, just a misunderstanding…
CW: You know Zhang is doing great work recently. Have you seen The Flowers of War? Magnificent!
TAP: Uh, no, I’m not sexually attracted to Christian Bale. (flips pages) But no, really that reminds me I wanted to ask you about this issue to begin with…
TAP: So all these genuine post-communist filmmakers like Zhang…
TAP: …how is it they all turn to the dark side in the end?
CW: Well, you mean?
TAP: So Zhang makes a series of films attacking the Party and then now he’s working for you guys. Did you, like kidnap his dog?
CW: (giggles) No, we simply desire to increase awareness of our beautiful culture, Zhang is part of that.
TAP: So, um, his cat?
CW: Now what you’re describing is a fairly common occurrence like you said, I mean, honestly, even the most ardent filmmaker has his price. Just look at Nikita Mikhalkov!
TAP: Oh, yeah, seriously, what the fuck was up with Burnt by the Sun 2? (laughs)
CW: (hysterical laughter) I know! The guy was executed by the NKVD and then he comes back to life! It was worse than Aliens 5! And the portrayal of Stalin?!
TAP: (laughs) Seriously!
CW: They didn’t even bother to show any purges. He was nearly wacky! Not the Stalin I’d imagined. I do not consider that performance to be canon. (sniggers)
TAP: (shakes head) Well, when you become best friends with Uncle Vladimir what do you expect?
CW: I know, but like I said, everybody has their price.
TAP: Yes, yes, so what’s yours?
CW: (pause) I’m above such things, I serve the people.
TAP: So like, what, two billion? Hollywood’s got it.
CW: No, no, just a humble servant here.
TAP: I hear Xi’s got north of two billion to his name, what’s stopping you? If you upped it from 34 films to like 60, you could buy many new boats in France? The people would approve of your new boats.
CW: (waves hand) Just another silly Western bigot here, I’m not going to play along.
TAP: Three billion?
(The Arcturus Project is pleased to be the first to announce a joint partnership between the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and various Hollywood studios. An even 100 films will be broadcast in China for calendar year 2015 to increase cultural cooperation between the two great film centers of the world. To increase the effectiveness of this program, Minister Cai Wu is slated to assume the duties as China Liaison for Warner Brothers Studios. The Arcturus Project is also pleased to announce that it will serve as Russia Liaison to the project via Moscow to bring together a great triangle of culture for the globe. Go Sochi!)
A toast! To the French coast! Oh, fuck, (waves hand) I’m so wasted!