Chinese film directors will not be showing their works at the Melbourne Film Festival. The boycott is in retaliation against Festival organiser’s refusal to discard a film about Rebiya Kadeer from its program. Richard Moore, director of the Melbourne International Film Festival, said an official named Chen Chunmei from the Chinese consulate in Melbourne rang him on 10 July to demand the withdrawal of the documentary.
Three Chinese films have been withdrawn from this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival in protest of the inclusion of a documentary about Rebiya Kadeer – the leader of the World Uygur Congress.
The films – “Perfect Life,” “Petition” and “Cry Me a River,” – had been expected to be screened in the mid-August festival, according to the Age newspaper in Melbourne.
But in a letter to the festival, Jia Zhangke, producer of the film “Perfect Life” and whose company also produced “Cry Me a River,” said he decided to withdraw both movies to protest Kadeer’s attendance at the event.
“Petition,” a film directed by Zhao Liang, has also been withdrawn from the festival.
Richard Moore described the Chinese film directors’ decisions as regrettable. However, he has no intention to make a retreat from his earlier position. In other words, the 10 Conditions of Love will be screened and the heroine of the movie Rebiya Kadeer will appear as a guest at the Film Festival alongside Greens leader Bob Brown, who will formally launch the film.
The Chinese boycott has another unforeseen consequence. According to today’s The Australian, “the initial screening of the film, 10 Conditions of Love, in a 750-seat venue has sold out and a second screening is being scheduled. Overall, ticket sales for the festival, which opens tomorrow, are up this year despite the economic downturn.”
Ironically, one of the Chinese film directors who joined the boycott made the following statement about the situation in an earlier interview with The Australian. He said and I quote:
If we don’t touch the taboo areas, we will have a lot of freedom. But then those areas will grow larger. If your tactic is to guess what the censors are thinking and try to avoid their concerns, you are ruined as an artist. We’re living in a dangerous atmosphere.
Those who are fond of Chinese films will not be disappointed. As a matter of fact, two of the withdrawn Chinese films will be shown in Brisbane next week.