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Taiwan protests Venice label

Taiwan protests Venice label

By Patrick Frater

Mon, 01 August 2011, 16:55 PM (HKT)

Policy/Legal News

Protests have been delivered to the Venice International Film Festival for labelling competition film Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale 賽德克・巴萊 (2011) (pictured) as originating from 'China, Taiwan.'

Taiwan's Government Information Office (GIO) 新聞局 and production company ARS Film Production 果子電影有限公司 have both written letters of complaint.

ARS said that the film was not funded from mainland Chinese sources and does not employ mainland actors. Wei is believed to have lost Chinese funding, and a guaranteed theatrical release in China, over his reluctance to cast mainland stars.

Directed by Taiwan's WEI Te-sheng 魏德聖, the film tells the tale of the anti-Japanese uprising in the 1930s known as the Wushe Incident (霧社事件). The title means 'a real man' in the aborigine language.

As of Monday, Venice had not changed the nationality of the film on its website.

It is not clear whether the festival simply intended to present the film as a co-production between China and Taiwan or to make the politically sensitive suggestion that Taiwan is part of China, or vice versa.

Four years ago, protests were made when Venice listed Ang LEE 李安's Lust, Caution 色,戒 (2007) as a 'Taiwan, China' film. At the same festival LEE Kang-sheng 李康生's Help Me Eros 幫幫我愛神 (2007) was listed as simply 'Taiwan'.

Taiwan broke away from China after the 1949 Civil War to form the Republic of China and regards itself as an independent territory. The People's Republic of China maintains that Taiwan is a rebel province that will one day return to the motherland.

Venice is not the only festival to see sparks fly over the identity of Taiwan.

In October last year, mainland official JIANG Ping 江平 objected to the Tokyo International Film Festival 東京国際映画祭 introducing separate delegations labelled 'China' and 'Taiwan'. He argued that the Taiwanese group should be rebranded as 'Chinese Taipei' or 'Chinese Taiwan'. As the dispute raged, the Taiwan producers and stars were kept waiting in a hospitality room until after the opening ceremony.

At the Shanghai International Film Festival 上海國際電影節 earlier the same year, the Taipei Film Commission 臺北市電影委員會 cancelled its Taipei Film Week and withdrew seven films over concerns that festival organisers would list them as originating from 'Taiwan, China' The withdrawal was a major blow for the Shanghai festival who had been promoting the season for three months and had to refund audience members.

"It's a pure Taiwan-made film and not a film made by Taiwan in cooperation with China," Seediq Bale producer Jimmy HUANG 黃志明 stated. He said it had a budget of NT$700 million ($24.3 million), with NT$350 million coming from Central Motion Picture Corporation (CMPC) 中影股份有限公司. The balance came from Wei and a government subsidy through the GIO.

Seediq Bale opens in Taiwan in September as two separate movies. Venice is screening the international cut, a single film edited from the two parts under the supervision of executive producer John WOO 吳宇森.

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