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February 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

At first it seemed as if the Berlin Film Festival’s top Golden Bear award to director Diao Yinan’s Black Coal, Thin Ice represented yet another leap for China’s film industry. After all, this was no conventional martial arts spectacular, but a noirish, artsy crime drama. Talk around the festival was that it could turn out to be one of those rare phenomena: a Chinese-language hit at the international box office. But then reporters noted something egregiously odd about the movie: it had no release date, either in the U.S. or any other country — not even in China. As the French news service Agence France-Presse observed today (Monday) from Beijing: “A top European prize for Chinese movie Black Coal, Thin Ice provoked curiosity and questioning today with the film not yet released at home and some asking whether political sensitivity might block it.” AFP noted that the film paints a rather bleak picture of China, as did Jia Zhangke’s Touch of Sin, which won the Cannes Film Festival’s best screenplay award last May. That film, too, has not been given a release date by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. AFP noted that Chinese state television announced that Black Coal, Thin Ice had won the prestigious award and that its star, Liao Fan, had been named best actor, but it made no further comment. Chinese cinematographer Zeng Jian received Berlin’s Silver Bear for Outstanding Achievement for the movie Blind Massage.