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Chinese entries pull out of Australia film festival for China’s political pressure

Posted by Author on July 21, 2009

ABC Online, Australia, Jul 21, 2009-

Chinese filmmakers have pulled out of the Melbourne International Film festival two days before it opens.

The development comes after Chinese officials asked organisers to drop a documentary that criticises the Chinese Government.

Australian-made film The 10 Conditions of Love is about the exiled Uigher leader Rebiya Kadeer.

Festival organisers say the withdrawal of all entries from China is regrettable.

Festival director Richard Moore says one of the Chinese filmmakers objected to the documentary, while the other gave no clear reason for his decision.

“We’re having to scramble for new films and reorganise the festival only two days out from the scheduled program,” he said.

“It’s a terrible inconvenience but more than that, beyond the inconvenience, it’s a terrible thing to happen to the festival that all this political pressure has been brought on us this year.”

Ms Kadeer lives in exile in the United States and will visit Melbourne for the festival next month.

Mr Moore says he has no intention of excluding the film about Ms Kadeer’s life, but he is in no doubt that his decision has prompted the boycott by the producers of China’s entries.

“Their reasons are connected to the presence of the documentary called 10 Conditions of Love about the leader of the Uighur movement in exile Rebiya Kadeer,” he said.

“The things that have happened have all been a result of a phone call from a consular official telling us in no uncertain terms that we had to remove the film from the festival.

“We stick by our guns; we’ll play it and we won’t bow to that form of bullying.”

Mr Moore received the phone call from the Melbourne-based Chinese consulate last week.

“She told me that she was ringing to urge me to withdraw the particular film 10 Conditions Of Love from the festival,” he said.

“I said I had no reason to withdraw the film from the festival and she then proceeded to tell me that I had to justify my decision to include the film in the festival.

“I said ‘Well, I’m very sorry but I didn’t have any reason to justify the inclusion of the film in the festival.’ So she then proceeded to … list Rebiya Kadeer’s crimes. I have to say to you after about five minutes I blanked out.”

ABC online

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