EIFF: Celebrated Chinese director confirms capital appearance after doubts over ‘obstructions’

Chinese film maker Wang Bing, known for his searing documentaries on labour camps and ideological brutality in China in the 1950s and 1960s, is en route to Edinburgh despite earlier concerns that his trip could face “obstructions” in his home country.

Bing’s films explore post-war Chinese history rather than present day events but are deeply critical of life in the People’s Republic of China through the Cultural Revolution and under Chairman Mao.

“He’s on his way,” said the festival’s director Chris Fujiwara. “It always crossed out minds that there would be a possibility that his travel would be obstructed.

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“He is definitely a film maker who is critical of the course of the People’s Republic of China. His films are mostly historical, they are looking back and not necessarily at the present regime but they are devastatingly critical of what has happened in people’s lives since 1949.”

Wang Bing is not described as a dissident and is not known to have been stopped from travelling in the past, although this is his first visit to the UK.

News is welcome since the festival has already lost two leading guests, the Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto, whose father is battling a terminal illness, and the actor Robert Carlyle.

Wang Bing’s appearances are set to be a highlight. They include a masterclass this weekend and a screening of Fengming: a Chinese Memoir, the first person account of a woman sent to labour camps in the 1950s with her husband, after the couple were denounced during anti-rightist campaigns.

“This film shows the suffering that she went through and shows that in historical context,” said Mr Fujiwara.