Taiwan protests Venice film festival's 'China' label

Festival's classification of Taiwan film Seediq Bale as from 'Taiwan, China' causes diplomatic outcry

A diplomatic row has broken out after the Venice film festival listed the originating country of the Wei Te-Sheng-directed film Seediq Bale as "China and Taiwan".

A protest has been filed by Taiwan's Government Information Office, as well as the production company ARS. Jimmy Huang, producer of Seediq Bale, said: "It's a pure Taiwan-made film and not a film made by Taiwan in cooperation with China."

The issue is politically sensitive due to China's stance on Taiwan's sovereign status. The island is regarded by the mainland's Communist-led authorities as their rightful territory.

There has been a history of the national status of a film becoming part of the diplomatic interchange. Similar protests emerged when Ang Lee's Lust, Caution was listed under "Taiwan, China" at Venice in 2007. In 2010, the Shanghai film festival was forced to cancel plans for a Taipei Film Week after the Taiwanese organisers showed concern that films be described as from "Taiwan, China" – in effect, implying Taiwan is part of China, rather than an independent entity.

Seediq Bale, Taiwan's most expensive film at $24.3m, is an account of the Wushe Incident, the 1930 uprising against colonial Japanese forces. No doubt the subject matter has enhanced the film-makers' sensitivities.

It's possible the "China" may have arisen after the participation of Hong Kong film-maker John Woo as executive producer. Woo is overseeing an "international cut", drawn from the film's two-part, four-and-a-half-hour running time.


Andrew Pulver

The GuardianTramp

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