China censors Oscar nominations
Published 04/02/2010 | 08:31
China has censored this year's nominations for the Academy Awards, blocking out the name of a documentary about the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake.
China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province, was one of five films nominated for best documentary short.
The movie shows the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, when over 70,000 people died, including 10,000 children, who were killed as their shoddily-built school buildings collapsed around them.
The collapse of the school buildings, killing the only child of many families, continues to be a highly-sensitive issue in Sichuan.
Grieving families have accused government officials of stealing the construction budget of the schools, creating flimsy deathtraps for the children inside. In Dujiangyan, some parents said the concrete of the middle school had been reinforced with bamboo, rather than steel rods.
However, the Chinese government has insisted that there was no wrongdoing leading up to the earthquake.
The documentary follows several groups of parents as their grief turned into protest.
"It was tofu construction," said one interviewee, while another held up a brick to show how easy it was to brush off the "mortar" on one side.
The 40-minute film shows how the parents are stonewalled and ignored by Communist party officials.
It was blocked from being aired in China, and the words "unnatural disaster" have been censored from the Chinese internet.
When the film garnered its Oscar nomination, Chinese media outlets either removed the film from their reports, or omitted the entire category.
There is also speculation that the Oscar ceremony itself may not be aired live in China because of the potential embarrassment if the movie wins.
Instead, an edited version of the ceremony may be screened.
The move comes in the midst of an extremely hardline censorship campaign, which has seen internet cut off entirely in the far Western province of Xinjiang and may yet force Google to abandon its Chinese business.
Xinhua, the official government news agency, reported that 900,000 mobile phones had been blocked in the southern province of Guangdong because they had been used to send text messages which contravened new regulations on obscene and controversial content.