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Video: Made in Hollywood, Censored by Beijing

PEN America's new report examines the ways in which Beijing’s censors have affected and influenced Hollywood and the global filmmaking industry. Panelists discuss pressures filmmakers confront and the choices they make in order to have their films be shown in China. 

August 6, 2020

China is the world’s second largest film market and is a vital market for many American films. China’s government also has content restrictions and a state review process for films to be exhibited there. How do American film producers cope with those hurdles? Is Chinese censorship shaping what gets made and distributed, even outside of China? 

PEN America, an organization long dedicated to supporting freedom of expression, examines these questions in its new report Made in Hollywood, Censored by Beijing: The US Film Industry and Chinese Government Influence. This report is the latest of PEN America’s set of reports on Chinese governmental constraints on freedom of expression. One of those reports, on social media censorship, was discussed at USC in 2018. In this report, PEN America concludes that self-censorship concerning China is increasingly the new normal for Hollywood professionals, with significant consequences for artistic expression and for the filmmaking profession.

Click here to read the full report.


The video is also available at our YouTube channel (subscribe!).


Rebecca Davis is the China bureau chief for Variety, where her beat includes the relationship between Beijing and Hollywood. Formerly reporting with Agence France-Presse, Davis covered breaking news on topics ranging from politics to natural disasters, such as earthquakes and landslides in Sichuan, and has written features on culture and lifestyle, including the dashed Oscar hopes of a Chinese documentary about an activist fighting on behalf of sexually abused children. A fluent Mandarin speaker, she has also worked in the Beijing offices of The New York Times and Le Monde.

Aynne Kokas is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. Kokas’ work focuses on the intersections between Chinese and US media and technology industries. Her book, Hollywood Made in China (University of California Press 2017), examines the cultural, political and economic implications of US media investment in China as it becomes the world’s largest film market. Watch Professor Kokas’s book talk at USC.

Stanley Rosen teaches political science, specializing in Chinese politics and society. He has been the editor (now coeditor) of Chinese Education & Society since 1983. His most recent books include Chinese Politics: State, Society and the Market (2010, co-edited with Peter Hays Gries) and Art, Politics and Commerce in Chinese Cinema (2010, co-edited with Ying Zhu). He is currently co-editing a book on China’s soft power and frequently comments on issues facing Hollywood films in China. Watch Professor Rosen’s presentation on China’s efforts to build its soft power and read his op-ed on Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group.

James Tager is deputy director of free expression research and policy at PEN America, and the primary report author for Made In Hollywood, Censored By Beijing. At PEN America, Tager has spearheaded major advocacy campaigns on freedom of expression in China and engaged in individual case advocacy for dozens of imprisoned Chinese writers, artists, and others. He has also led PEN America’s previous major research efforts on China: Forbidden Feeds (2018), Darkened Screen (2016), and Writing on the Wall (2016). Tager previously worked with the International Commission of Jurists—Asia & Pacific Program, first as a Satter Human Rights Fellow and subsequently as an international associate legal advisor.

Moderated by Clayton Dube, USC U.S.-China Institute

This event was co-sponsored by PEN America.