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China police detain film festival officials, close festival down

BEIJING--Chinese police briefly detained two organizers of an independent film festival that was shut down on its opening day, an associate said Sunday, amid a clampdown on free expression.

Festival officials Li Xianting and Wang Hongwei were taken away Saturday by police who closed down the 11th Beijing Independent Film Festival, said Wang Shu, who works with the Li Xianting Film Fund behind the event.

“They came back last night, but I haven't seen them yet and don't have details on the situation” Wang Shu told AFP.

She added it was “inconvenient” to divulge too many details to media.

Li, a film critic, is the founder of the Li Xianting Film Fund, while Wang Hongwei is the festival's artistic director.

Police had prevented film industry workers and the audience from attending the festival, Wang Shu said on Saturday, saying it was “forced to close.”

The festival has regularly run afoul of the authorities. Its opening day last year was disrupted although organizers continued the event in defiance.

Heavy security also turned out in 2012, when state media reported that the event was interrupted by a power cut.

Sources told AFP that authorities had put heavy pressure on organizers to cancel this year's festival in the days leading up to it.

AFP was also told that the films to be screened at the festival were not “sensitive” in terms of being anti-government.

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The Beijing Independent Film Festival's artistic director, Wang Hongwei poses for a photo near the venue for the Beijing Independent Film Festival in Beijing, China, Saturday, Aug. ...

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