3 more Chinese films pulled at Melbourne festival

July 30, 2009 5:37:44 AM PDT
Three more Chinese-language films have been pulled from an Australian film festival to protest the planned appearance of an exiled Uighur activist Beijing blames for inciting recent ethnic violence, organizers said Thursday. Rebiya Kadeer's scheduled visit to the Melbourne International Film Festival on Aug. 8 has already prompted Venice Film Festival winner Jia Zhangke and Hong Kong director Emily Tang to withdraw their movies.

The makers of the short Chinese documentary "YB Box," the Hong Kong-Taiwan romance "Miao Miao," and the Hong Kong black comedy "The Moss" have also withdrawn their films, festival spokeswoman Louise Heseltine told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

The boycotting filmmakers are upset by Kadeer's visit and the screening of a documentary about her, Heseltine said.

The 62-year-old U.S.-based activist is scheduled to attend a question-and-answer session after a screening of "10 Conditions of Love" on Aug. 8.

"YB Box" director Liu Feng thinks the Melbourne event has become too political, a publicist said.

"He shares the feelings of the other directors who have pulled out. ... Movies are an art form to him, but if they are linked to politics, he will question that," said Julia Liu, a spokesman for the advertising agency Wieden and Kennedy Shanghai, which made "YB Box."

An official at Mei Ah Entertainment Group Ltd., which made "The Moss," said it was following the lead of other Chinese filmmakers.

"We are worried about the political sensitivity of the situation," said Sara Law, an official in the company's distribution department.

Charlotte Yu, a publicist at Jettone Films, which made "Miao Miao," said she did not handle the film's withdrawal and couldn't immediately comment.

The Melbourne festival has been besieged by objections to Kadeer's appearance. Festival director Richard Moore said an official from the Chinese consulate in Melbourne asked him to pull the film about three weeks ago. The festival's Web site was also hacked - an attack Moore blames on his refusal to scrap the Kadeer film or her visit.

Jia pulled his 19-minute short "Cry Me a River," and Tang withdrew her feature film "Perfect Life."

In the country's worst ethnic unrest in decades, protests by minority Uighurs descended into communal violence, with Uighur and Han Chinese groups beating one another in the streets of Urumqi, the capital of western Xinjiang province. The Chinese government says 197 people died and more than 1,700 were wounded. Kadeer has denied instigating the riots.

On Wednesday, Kadeer said in Japan that 10,000 Uighur protesters had disappeared after the riots, and she demanded an international investigation.

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On the Net:

Melbourne International Film Festival: http://www.melbournefilmfestival.com.au

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