China / Society

Director claims film producers trying to profit from island row

By XU WEI (China Daily) Updated: 2012-10-21 23:51

The award-winning film director Xie Fei has slammed the decision to pull a Chinese movie from a festival in Japan, accusing its distributors of trying to profit from the nationalist fever generated by the Diaoyu Islands dispute.

Beijing Antaeus Films, a production and distribution company, issued a statement on Thursday saying it had withdrawn Feng Shui from the Tokyo International Film Festival in protest of Japan's "stubbornness" and "insincerity" in handling the dispute.

However, Xie, one of China's best-known film directors who was the artistic advisor on Feng Shui, has branded the move a publicity stunt aimed at boosting box office revenue.

"(Makers of the) other Chinese films that were to be shown at the event protested by simply not sending any actors or the director," the 70-year-old wrote on his blog. "If the protest was not done for commercial reasons, why did it not come in September, when the island dispute was being intensely discussed?

"Instead, it was announced two days before the festival when all the tickets had already sold out."

Xie aimed much of his ire at Dong Wenjie, deputy general manager of Beijing Antaeus Film, openly accusing her of exploiting anti-Japan sentiment for profit.

"The film is a low-budget yet quality film. ... I never expected it to make a lot of money at the box office," he said in an earlier interview with QQ, a Chinese instant messaging service. "But she (Dong) is far more ambitious. She is trying to make the film a blockbuster and expects it to bring in 50 million yuan ($8 million). That is what is behind this unreasonable decision."

Xie, a professor at Beijing Film Academy, said that one of the three films producers did not want to hold a news conference to announce the withdrawal, but it went ahead anyway.

China Daily was unable to reach Dong on Sunday.

Yu Huijuan, a spokeswoman for Antaeus Film, declined to comment on Xie's outburst.

Feng Shui, which depicts the life of woman whose husband commits suicide, cost about 4 million yuan to make, Xie said. It was the only Chinese film nominated for the Tokyo festival's grand prize.

In a statement on the official website of the festival, the organizing committee said it had received no official notice of the withdrawal from the producers of the film, adding that the screening of Feng Shui will take place as scheduled.

Xie's most famous works include Woman Sesame Oil Maker, which won the Golden Bear at the 1993 Berlin International Film Festival, and Black Snow.

Liu Wei contributed to this story.

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