Films may be political in content covering a political subject or they could have a political affect which polarizes people around issues and causes actions and reactions. The former films might be Doug Liman’s Fair Game, films such as Three Days of the Condor, Battle of Algiers, or the classic films of Costa-Gavras or D.W. Griffith. The latter are most often documentaries which today are filling the vacuum created by TV and print media for in depth news coverage. Everyday there are new instances of the latter. Finally, there are films which are made political by others who want to polarize groups around certain issues. These actions, most recently, are not so much about film as about wishes to censor others’ freedom of expression. As these “political films” arise, I will blog about them here because I see film as an art and I see all art as subversive and I see art as necessary to the ongoing development of democratic freedoms.
The following case is about films which are made political by others who want to polarize groups around certain issues, in this case the issue is the sovereignty of Taiwan as its own country and not as a part of the People’s Republic of China.
Au revoir Taipei showed in the 2010 Berlinale Forum
The Taipei Film Commission pulled eight films from the 13th Shanghai International Film Festival apparently because two Taiwanese TV dramas competing at the Shanghai TV Festival were listed as originating from “Taiwan, China.” The labeling is seen controversial in Taiwan and was widely reported by Taiwanese newspapers, causing concerns from Taiwan’s Government Information Office (GIO), Taiwan’s governmental unit on film and TV policies. After the negotiation on the naming broke between The Taipei Film Commission and SIFF, The Commission decided to cancel the event that was to be the Taiwan Film Week sidebar.
The films pulled from what was to be the Taiwan Film Week sidebar of the festival were Niu Cheng-tse’s gangland drama Monga, Arvin Chen’s Au revoir Taipeiwhich showed at the the Berlinale Forum this year, romantic drama Hear Me, Cheng Hsiao-tse’s More Than Close, and several older films Orz Boys, Yang Yang, Three Times, and Tonight Nobody Goes Home. Many of the eight films, such as Monga, Au revoir Taipei and More than Close originally planned to have their mainland China premiere with the intention to meet with mainland buyers for possible theatrical release in the mainland market.
AsiaOneNews reports on June 18, 2010 via The China Post/ Asia News Network that the eight Taiwanese motion pictures including the popular movie ‘Monga’ were pulled due to political reasons, and the chief of Taipei Cultural Affairs Department, Hsieh Hsiao-Yun, verified it. Hsieh said the origin of the movies was labeled as ‘China, Taiwan’ by mainland officials, which was considered an insult to the integrity of Taiwan. She says that officials found the label ‘China, Taiwan’ were printed on all pamphlets and tickets of the Shanghai Film Festival two weeks ago. Because there is no time to reprint those materials, Taipei officials decide to drop out of the festival. Taipei Deputy Mayor Li Yung-Pin says the two cities agreed that the origin of the films should be labeled ‘Taipei’ over a year ago, but it is up to the Chinese government, not the Shanghai organizer, to make the final decision. Mainland China also asked the director of another Taiwanese film, ‘Us,’ to mosaic the footage of the national flag of the Republic of China before playing in China. The director, Chung Cheun, found the request ridiculous and decided not to go.