Portuguese directors João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata were all set for their hour-long film Red Dawn to screen as part of an exhibition in Beijing called Where is China?. However, one hour before the opening, the film was unexpectedly pulled from the exhibition. Worse still, Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva was in attendance at the event, where copies of the catalogue detailing the film were confiscated. Needless to say, Portuguese short film agency, Agência, is not happy.
According to Agência's Salette Ramahlo, "Red Dawn is a poetic and visually stunning documentary, mostly observational, that captures the reality of the rituals involved in preparing animals for consumption in Macao’s famous Red Market."
Perhaps also needless to say, the filmmakers themselves, who were not in attendance, aren't thrilled either. Said Rodrigues, "We knew that our film would have to be approved by one or several censorship commissions. But as Red Dawn was shot in Macao, which is Chinese territory, with the support of Macao's Cultural Institute, and being a documentary portrait of a day in Macao's most emblematic produce market, we never thought that we would have censorship problems."
Initially, there was no reason given for the decision, however, the Chinese International Culture Association has since sent an official statement, provided here without comment:
We hereby express our attitude and offer our suggestion towards the work Red Dawn by artists João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata, which participated in the Chinese-Portuguese contemporary art exhibition. The work would likely arouse unpleasant feelings and negative emotions from Chinese audiences. In order to improve the exhibition to be more likeable and favourable for Chinese audiences, we would like the work to be removed. Thanks for your understanding and coordination.
Thus far, the Portuguese president has declined to comment on the situation, with his office saying that he was not informed of the situation during the event.