“Activists Denounce Film Deal in China”

It looks like the scandal surrounding Relativity Media filming a movie in Linyi is starting to get some mainstream attention- the NYT has a piece here:

The Hollywood producers of a slapstick comedy that began shooting last week in a city in China’s eastern Shandong Province describe their feature about a young man facing a birthday, “21 and Over,” as an “epic misadventure of debauchery and mayhem.”

As it happens, scores of Chinese human rights activists who in recent weeks have been descending on the very same city, Linyi, describe a different kind of misadventure and mayhem in their thwarted efforts to visit Chen Guangcheng, an embattled lawyer who is under house arrest there.

With few exceptions, outsiders who have made the trip to Linyi have been violently assaulted, robbed, detained and then sent on their way by the guards who keep Mr. Chen, who is blind, and his wife imprisoned in their farmhouse. Those same guards, at the behest of local Communist Party officials, have occasionally beaten the couple, most recently in July as one of their children looked on, according to a report released last week by the group China Aid.

In a statement, Relativity Media said it was proud of its partnership but insisted it was unaware of Mr. Chen’s situation or the case that originally landed him in trouble — a class-action lawsuit against officials accused of forcing thousands of Linyi women to have abortions and sterilizations.

“From its founding, Relativity Media has been a consistent and outspoken supporter of human rights and we would never knowingly do anything to undermine this commitment,” the company said in a statement on Sunday.

Nicholas Bequelin, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong, said he did not fault the company for its decision to shoot in Linyi although he said executives might have done well to Google the place and its political leadership before so avidly promoting the partnership. “They have to be aware of their relationship with notorious abusers,” he said. “They failed to do their due diligence.”

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Filed under activism, enforced disappearance, violence

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