Thursday, August 06, 2009

Melbourne Film Festival Success, AFP Crash-n-Burn

Readers may recall that China threw a temper tantrum and pulled Chinese films from the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) in Melbourne, Australia, last week, because the festival was screening a film about an Uighur activist. One of these films was a joint Hong-Kong-Taiwan production called Miao Miao, whose distributor was from Hong Kong. The Taiwan Economic and Trade Office (TECO) in Australia let everyone know that this was unacceptable and Taiwan still fully backed the festival in a statement released earlier this week:
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia (TECO) is very surprised and regretful to hear that the distributing company of the film entitled "Miao Miao", namely Fortissimo Films, which is based in Hong Kong, has decided to withdraw the screening of "Miao Miao", by Taiwanese director Heng Hsiao-Tse.

The withdrawal is due to the recent boycott made by the authorities of the Chinese People’s Republic which controls Hong Kong, against the Melbourne International Film Festival. This has nothing to do with Taiwan which is in support of the continuous participation of the film and the freedom of expression and human rights.
Hilariously, the Hong Kong firm denied that it had pulled the film as part of Beijing's toddler outburst, instead claiming that the festival had "a weird ambiance" and had become "politicized." The GIO said it may demand its funding for the project back.

Meanwhile, the Chinese political attack on the film festival was a resounding success, as this advertisement says:
Posted 5th August, 2009

Due to overwhelming demand MIFF has decided to relocate the screening of 10 Conditions of Love the documentary about Rebiya Kadeer to a larger venue and to place more tickets on sale.

The film will now screen at the Melbourne Town Hall on Saturday 8th August at 4:45 pm.


REBIYA KADEER will be in attendance and will be available to answer questions following the screening.
Tickets have already sold out, demand is overwhelming. Another brilliant policy success for Beijing and all Chinese people! I hope Taiwanese artists and others involved in collaboration with Chinese observe that their work will always be nothing more than a pawn in Beijing's political strategies. The festival director discusses Chinese pressure here, while the director of the film about Kadeer had some pertinent remarks:
The film's director Jeff Daniels says he is concerned about the fact Victoria police will be putting on extra security for the screening.

"I personally find it appalling that the Chinese Government has put the film festival and film-goers in a position where they need a police escort and private security to see a film," he said.

"I think Melbourne is getting a small taste of the position that the Chinese Government has put Rebiya Kadeer and her family and the Uighur population in for the past 60 years."
The really wacky thing this week was AFP's reporting. I posted earlier that AFP had erroneously reported that TECO had joined the boycott with Beijing. AFAIK, no other news organization had reported this (please forward link if anyone knows of one). No biggie, errors are not uncommon, especially where Taipei, Hong Kong, and Beijing can be mixed up. Five days later, today their headline screams:

Taiwan denies boycotting Melbourne film fest

"Denies" as in Senator Denies Affair With Intern or Company Denies Illegal Waste Dumping. The use of "deny" in a newspaper article generally signals that a credible accusation was made, not that the paper had made an ordinary error in the course of reporting. AFP should have simply published a correction with an "AFP regrets the error" note.

I wonder if this would work for other types of news stories -- like if the Taipei Times does a story on me and says I am 62 years old, instead of an error correction, they could just write Turton Denies He Is 62...
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


David said...

Not only did the film get a bigger venue at the Film Festival, it will also screen at a Melbourne cinema.

Ref: Nova to screen Uighur film

dennis said...

"Turton Denies He Is 62..." lol I love a sarcastic ridicule :D these papers they make u laugh and cry all at the same time - "ku siao bu der"

Thomas said...

I too got a good chuckle out of Jet Tone's lame excuse. If they didn't want to be involved with the mixing of art and politics (and we all know that art has never ever been political) why were they content to be in the film festival before Beijing made a big deal? It is not like they did not know that the film would be showing before the Chinese side complained. And isn't choosing not to be a part of a politically charged event in itself a political decision? Since when is an abstaining vote not political?

Anonymous said...

My curiosity has certainly been piqued. Is it showing in Taiwan?

Anonymous said...

you guys have no idea what you are talking about to say the least. mark my word: china could not care less what 20 million Australian think(sorry no matter how important you think your views are Australia has the same population as one big Chinese city like Shanghai), what china really care is what its 1.3B people think. this is not important enough to be on Chinese newspaper but its all over Australia, that will tell you something. let me test your brain: do you really think she was released because pressure from US the media made you believe? laughable.

Anonymous said...

If China doesn't care, why is it now threatening to cancel sister-city relations between Tianjin and Melbourne, the a five year old.

Really, it's time you guys grow up.

Robert R. said...

"this is not important enough to be on Chinese newspaper

A lot of things aren't in Chinese newspapers, and it has nothing to do with "importance".