Friday, September 18, 2009

Formosa Betrayed: Congressional Screening Success

Formosa Betrayed (when is it going to be screened in Taiwan!!!!) was a big hit in its Congressional Screening earlier this week. Terri Giles, Executive Director of the Formosa Foundation, sent around this letter describing the event.

Dear Friends and Supporters:

Drawing attention to the current and decades-long struggle for democracy forged by the people of Taiwan and their American allies, the Formosa Foundation was proud to present the dramatic and action-packed political thriller FORMOSA BETRAYED to members of Congress, their staff, and other Washington insiders on Monday, September 14, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Your support helped make this event a triumph. By sharing the powerful message about the plight of the Taiwanese people and their fight for freedom, democracy and self determination with decision makers in Washington, D.C. we achieved our goal to increase awareness about the historic struggle of Taiwanese and their American friends to build a democratic society. The most telling indicator of the success of the evening was that members of Congress sat through the entire film. One long time Washington hand remarked that unlike other events that she has attended this event “felt authentic.” The film received wide praise from attendees and we heard multiple comments about how important the movie is to understanding the complexity of the Taiwan situation. Over the next few days and weeks we will be sharing photos and additional write-ups but I wanted to quickly share some of the highlights of the evening.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Congressmen David Wu (D-OR),Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Congressmen Al Green (D-TX), and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) were featured guests for the exclusive Washington screening of FORMOSA BETRAYED. They were joined by members of the board of Directors of the Formosa Foundation, cast and crew, and honored guest, former Taiwan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mark Chen.

During the program, Senator Brown spoke of the need for Congress to keep an eye on what’s happening in Taiwan and expressed his concern that Taiwan’s democracy is “now in peril.” Brown confessed to the audience that he “dreamed of the day, like many of you, when U.S. policy moved to a one-China, one-Taiwan policy.” Brown went on to tell his colleagues that it is up to “us - the U.S. Congress - to help Taiwan keep the democracy that the people have earned and sacrificed to create.”

Congressman David Wu, who was born in Taiwan, stressed the importance of remembering the people who made both small and large sacrifices so that people in Taiwan could enjoy liberty and democracy today. In paraphrasing a saying made famous by then Governor Roosevelt in 1900, the Congressman said “amnesia is the handmaiden of tyranny; the only way that tyranny survives is if we forget what it does.”

Texas Congressman Michael McCaul, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee’s Intelligence Subcommittee as well as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, emphatically stated his strong support for Taiwan. He declared that “we like our independent in Texas and we have that in common.” McCaul went on to say that “America stands for freedom and democracy, and the fight against oppression and dictatorship, and we stand with you as we watch this movie.”

Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, pointed out in her remarks that “As the old saying goes, ‘freedom is not free.’ It requires constant vigilance to stand guard to preserve those democratic values.” Ros-Lehtinen encouraged other members of Congress to renew the pledge to maintain a free and democratic Taiwan. She made clear that “there can be no backsliding in Taiwan’s commitment to democracy.”

Various news sources reported on the event – see selected links below – but the write-up that I found most compelling was by someone whose knowledge of Taiwan was limited, but who became energized after seeing the film and perfectly summed up the purpose of this event in her blog.

She wrote “Imagine if Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, etc. had all been locked up in a room and killed just before the American Revolution. This is, in a sense, what happened in Taiwan in 1947. The intellectual leaders of Taiwan were assassinated by the Chinese government. To this day, it has been illegal to speak or write about what happened.” See “What Do You Know About Taiwan?” at for the full story.

The Formosa Foundation is working to build a series of other special events surrounding the film’s screening in which to draw more attention to the issue of Taiwan’s democracy. Our next event will be a conference entitled BEYOND FORMOSA BETRAYED; Towards Truth and Reconciliation in Taiwan in Washington, D.C. on September 25 at the National Press Club. We are teaming with FAPA, Chen Wen-cheng Memorial Foundation and the Formosan Association for Human Rights to present this important forum.

Again, thank you for your support and please continue to encourage friends and colleagues to see the film FORMOSA BETRAYED. Upcoming showings include the following film festivals: Hollywood, San Diego, DC Asian Pacific American, Philadelphia Asian American, Sao Paulo International, and St. Louis International. For more information visit:

Best, Terri

Terri J. Giles
Executive Director
Formosa Foundation
350 S. Figueroa St. Suite 275
Los Angeles, CA 90071

213.625.1991 - Phone
213.625.1941 - Fax

Taipei Times -- Taiwan's largest English language newspaper
Washington Times -- DC's second largest newspaper
Earth Times – International business publication,963472.shtml
Liberty Times -- Taiwan's largest newspaper
The Snow Lion – Human Rights blog

In addition to the media reports listed above, Politico had a nifty piece on the lead actor:

"Formosa Betrayed" chronicles the events surrounding the murder and subsequent investigation of a Taiwanese-American professor on U.S. soil. A screening of the film took place earlier this week at the Newseum for members of Congress and their staff; it was sponsored by the Formosa Foundation, which is "dedicated to the advancement of human rights, democracy, and the right to self-determination of Taiwan." In the film, Van Der Beek plays FBI agent Jake Kelly, who travels to Taipei in the early 1980s to participate in the investigation.

"I do feel like it's important to tell stories that are true or at least inspired by true events," said Van Der Beek. "The fact was that this was a set of politics and issue that I didn't even know existed. I had never heard anything about this story. I was really — like most Americans — pretty ignorant as to what had gone on."

Hopefully the film will send Americans out to find out more about the Beautiful Isle.

Mark your calendars: I'm informed that the Formosa Foundation and FAFA are hosting a conference on Sept. 25 with FAPA and then showing the film at the DC Asian American Film Fest on Oct 3. A major event is also planned for December.


Another movie making headlines is 10 Conditions of Love, the film about Rebiya Kadeer. Taiwan Today translates a UDN piece:
Beijing has ordered mainland Chinese tour groups to steer clear of Kaohsiung City following the decision to show a documentary on exiled Uighur minority leader Rebiya Kadeer at an upcoming film festival.

The response is seen as a punitive measure for including “The 10 Conditions of Love” on the Kaohsiung Film Festival’s bill, and for inviting the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan last month, a BBC news report stated.


According to the BBC report, Taiwan’s Presidential Office said it is not unusual for the country to screen films on wide-ranging topics, as freedom of speech and cultural diversity are safeguarded on the island.

On Sept. 17, Kaohsiung Tourism Association urged city officials to withdraw the documentary after reports that a large number of mainland Chinese hotel bookings had been cancelled. Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu was not available for comment as she is overseas on city business.

Festival organizer Kaohsiung Film Archive told the BBC that it is reviewing screening plans while soliciting opinions from different sides. The KCG had said it was a cultural event for the city to screen the documentary film.

The Taipei Times also reported, with further details:
“[The visit by] the Dalai Lama dealt a blow to [tourism in the city],” Kaohsiung Tourism Association chairman Tseng Fu-hsing (曾福興) told reporters yesterday.

The Dalai Lama was invited by local government heads in the south, including Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), to comfort victims of Typhoon Morakot, which wreaked havoc in southern Taiwan last month.

“I hereby urge the city government to cancel the plan to screen the documentary, as it is too sensitive and could harm cross-strait relations,” Tseng said.

A Kaohsiung hotelier said travel agencies arranging trips for Chinese tour groups were avoiding Kaohsiung City and canceling restaurant stops booked for the groups.

Kaohsiung City Tourism Bureau Director-General Lin Kun-shan (林崑山) confirmed that hotels including the Han-Hsien International Hotel and the Lees Hotel had informed the city government of cancellations by Chinese tour groups.
The tourists will come back, if it is even true that they are canceling, and that the cancellations are actually due to the screening, and not some other issue. Reuters has further reporting on it. AFP as well, which says the actual number of cancellations is about 200, and that the total loss from the Dalai Lama's visit is less than $US200,000.
More Daily Links:
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!


Anonymous said...

Reutuers has an article "Taiwan city balks on Uighur film over China worries"

It got one sentence to quote and made a sensational and bizarre title.

Tim Maddog said...

Michael, you quoted a Taiwan Today translation of UDN:
- - -
Beijing has ordered mainland Chinese tour groups to steer clear of Kaohsiung City following the decision to show a documentary on exiled Uighur minority leader Rebiya Kadeer at an upcoming film festival.

The response is seen as a punitive measure
- - -

There you have it -- yet another example of what I have previously referred to as China's "economic terrorism."

If "Formosa Betrayed" doesn't get shown in Taiwan, somebody will just have to seed it for BitTorrent download.

Tim Maddog

les said...

If I were a Kaohsiung resident I wouldn't consider it punishment that Chinese tourists were staying away. I'd be sending a thank-you note.

Anonymous said...

Hm... The Kaohsiung City has the freedom to decide to show the Uighur film fully aware of the potential impact to its tourism industry. On the flip side, the Chinese government has the freedom to decide to boycott Kaohsiung City. It's their money and they spend whichever way they are pleased. Just like the U.S. boycotts Cuba, Iran and Libya for decades for its own political agenda. Therefore you moron foreigners and the Kaohsiung City has not right to bitch about the Chinese boycott. Kaohsiung City administrators made their free choice to alienate and anger China with the most sensitive issues not only once but twice and they should live with the consequences.

Michael Turton said...

Therefore you moron foreigners and the Kaohsiung City has not right to bitch about the Chinese boycott. Kaohsiung City administrators made their free choice to alienate and anger China with the most sensitive issues not only once but twice and they should live with the consequences.

ROFL. If China has a right to bitch, so do we. Or can we only speak when you say it is OK? That would be... typical.

As the Taipei Times noted today, it appears many cancellations are for other reasons, not related to the film.


Anonymous said...

most amazing photo, MT. really. yours in Seattle

Anonymous said...

"If China has a right to bitch,so do we. Or can we only speak when you say it is OK? That would be... typical."

你啊 常自打嘴巴
Of course China has every right to bitch and boycott as much as the the U.S. does over their political interests. Especially when other countries support the break up of its country (Xin Jiang and Tibet). I often wonder what US would do to other countries who openly support groups who cause riots or blood sheds in Hawaii or Texas in order to achieve Hawaii and Texas independence from the U.S.A? U.S. definitely won't act too kind to those countries, either. So stop calling Chinese's right to boycott and protest as "childish" or "nuts".

BTW, does Obama plan to host Dali Lama in the White House when DL visits the U.S. in October? If Obama doesn't meet DL, he must be receiving direct orders from China by your standard. You better advocate the impeachment of Obama, since he is taking orders from the Chinese government. LOL....

Michael Turton said...

So stop calling Chinese's right to boycott and protest as "childish" or "nuts".

ROFL. Grow up and stop invading and taking other people's nations, and then throwing tantrums when people get oppose your murderous, colonialist ways, and I'll stop calling you on your childish behavior.

Michael Turton said...

Yours in Seattle, it's one of my favorites. I took it from a ridge overlooking Keelung.