Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name has been yanked from the Beijing International Film Festival’s lineup, and the decision is most likely because the film portrays a gay relationship. The 2017 film took home an Oscar for best adapted screenplay earlier this month and tells the story of two young Americans who have a summer romance while in Italy during the ’80s.
A source close to the movie confirmed to Deadline that the decision to pull the film has already been made. Though no official reason was given by the committee, this is the first Beijing Film Festival since China’s film industry shifted oversight responsibilities to the Propaganda Department of the country’s Communist Party. Critics were expecting to see increased control over what types of content made it to the big screen after the government took over the festival’s vetting process, but censoring depictions of LGBTQ people still comes as a surprise to some Chinese filmgoers. Wu Jian, a Beijing-based film analyst, told Reuters that it was “quite embarrassing for China” that it had been pulled.
As Jezebel points out, China’s attitudes on homosexuality have been historically relaxed, and most young people have no problem with gay rights initiatives in the country—so the festival’s decision isn’t exactly aligned with the country’s mainstream cultural attitudes.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME was recently removed from a film festival in Beijing. This presents a moral conflict for studio execs eager to create tolerant and inclusive films like CMBYN and LOVE, SIMON but also desiring utilization of China as a second-chance film market. #NHBiz— Brigid Kennedy (@brigidckennedy) March 26, 2018
Whatever the official reason ends up being, the movie being pulled brings up some new issues for the film industry. On the one hand, Hollywood has made strides in recent years with representing more characters with diverse and varied backgrounds. But studios may be discouraged from pursuing queer narratives if it means a movie won’t make money in markets as enormous as China’s.