The screening of Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, a British slasher film due to be released in Hong Kong this week, has been cancelled, its distributor said without giving a reason for pulling it.
- Some anti-China protestors have used the image of Pooh to signal dissent during demonstrations
- Moviematic, which had organised a screening of the film reported the cancellation on its social media page and cited technical reasons
- Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020 after the city was rocked by anti-government protests
VII Pillars Entertainment said on its Facebook page that it was with “great regret” that the scheduled release of the movie on March 23 had been cancelled. It did not give further details.
Chinese censors have in the past targeted the film’s main character, originally conceptualised by English author A A Milne, due to memes that compare the bumbling bear to President Xi Jinping.
The comparisons began in 2013 when Mr Xi visited the United States and met his then counterpart Barack Obama and some online commentators seized on their likeness to Pooh and Tigger.
Some people have used the image of Pooh to signal dissent.
Hong Kong’s government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A ticket-booking link on its Facebook page brought up a message saying ticketing was temporarily unavailable.
Moviematic, which had organised a screening of the film for Tuesday evening, reported the cancellation on its social media page earlier in the day and cited technical reasons for the cancellation.
China’s history of banning content
A new censorship law in the former British colony came into effect in 2021. Some films have been prevented from being shown in the Chinese special administrative region.
The city’s censorship law bars films that “endorse, support, glorify, encourage and incite activities that might endanger national security”.
Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020 after the city was rocked by anti-government protests. The law sets out punishment for anything deemed subversion, secession, colluding with foreign forces and terrorism.
Two films were dropped from Hong Kong’s international film festival last year after failing to get approval from authorities.
The cancellation comes as Hong Kong hosts the Art Basel contemporary art fair with authorities keen to promote the city as a vibrant cultural hub.
Hong Kong’s censorship laws have also seen media bosses and protesters alike jailed. Earlier this year, the iconic series The Simpsons was a victim of China’s crackdown on national security.
An episode from the long-running series’s latest season that refers to forced labour camps in China has been banned on the Disney+ streaming service in Hong Kong.