Leica Camera is attempting to distance the German photography brand from a promotional film depicting the events of Tiananmen Square.
The five-minute film, called The Hunt, depicts a series of conflict situations and highlights the role of photographers in capturing these moments.
Among the events is the story of a Western journalist who encounters Chinese soldiers in a Beijing hotel in 1989 as the events of the infamous pro-democracy protests occur outside. The film ends with the man capturing the iconic ‘Tank Man’ image in his camera lens and features the line, “This film is dedicated to those who lend their eyes to make us see”, followed by the Leica logo.
The film has been heavily criticised by Chinese social media users and has been banned in China along with mentions of the brand 'Leica'. The South China Morning Post reports any post containing the brand name in either English or Chinese cannot be published on Weibo as it is “a violation of relevant laws and regulations of the Weibo Community Convention”. The Tank Man image is already banned in China.
The timing is particularly contentious as the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square approaches.
Leica has claimed the film is not official marketing and was not commissioned by the company.
However, the film was created by Leica’s Brazilian agency F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi and has been promoted as a Leica project on publications such as Fast Company and The Stable, which includes a credit for Leica client approval.
The film has also been removed from Leica’s social media channels.