Chinese authorities shut down an independent film festival on its opening day yesterday, organisers said.

The event offered a rare platform for films that may be critical of the government.

Festival artistic director Wang Hongwei and executive director Fan Rong, both of the Li Xianting Film Fund which organised the 11th Beijing Independent Film Festival, said it had been forced to close. It started as a film forum in 2006 but has become one of the most important events for China's independent filmmakers, but attracted the attention of authorities eager to regulate free speech.

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