Screenings of the controversial Winnie-the-Pooh horror film have been canceled in Hong Kong, sparking speculation that the film may have been pulled by censors angered by comparisons between the bulbous bear and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey— in which the lovable child character is transformed into a bloodthirsty, serial-killing monster — was due to open in cinemas in semi-autonomous Chinese territory on Thursday. But Moviematic, which organized a preview this week, announced on its social media accounts that the screening had been canceled due to “technical reasons”.
VII Pillars, the film’s local distributor, also announced on Tuesday that the release would not go ahead, but didn’t explain why. The Daily Beast has reached out to the company for comment.
The mysterious shutdown has fueled speculation that the film could be the latest target of Beijing censors, who may be unhappy about the role the bear played in poking fun at Xi Jinping. After Xi’s visit to the US in 2013, memes comparing the Chinese leader and Barack Obama to the characters of AA Milne began to surface on the internet.
Since then, the honey-loving bear has also been used as a symbol of resistance to the Chinese government. Pro-democracy protesters have worn Pooh masks at demonstrations and activists opposed to Chinese lockdowns held up drawings of the bear over the past year.
AA Milne’s characters have also been directly subject to Chinese censorship in the past. In 2018 the live-action film Christopher Robin was banned in China over concerns Pooh would appear in the film, according to the Hollywood reporter. Authorities have also been accused of removing images from social media that compare the bear to Xi.
Cracking down on anything that might embarrass Beijing is part of censorship rules imposed on Hong Kong since China enacted a national security law in 2020 following massive anti-government protests. The law was nominally designed to prevent “secession,” “terrorism,” and “cooperation with foreign forces,” but in practice it was used to quash any political opposition to China in Hong Kong.
Authorities were further emboldened in 2021 when a special film censorship law was passed. The rules were again enforced under the auspices of safeguarding “national security,” granting the power to revoke film licenses when officials felt a film “contravened national security interests.”
The Hong Kong International Film Festival canceled two films from its schedule last year after the local government refused to allow screenings, Al Jazeera reports. A short film was pulled over a scene that lasted less than a second because it showed a protest site of the 2014 Umbrella movement, officials said Free Press Hong Kongwith the Bureau of Film, Newspaper and Articles Administration ordering producers to delete the snapshots for “reconstructing the illegal occupation movement.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-winnie-the-pooh-blood-and-honey-was-shutdown-in-hong-kong Blood and Honey closed in Hong Kong