China absent from Melbourne International Film Festival | Asia Pacific

China absent from Melbourne International Film Festival

China absent from Melbourne International Film Festival

Updated 6 January 2012, 10:55 AEDT

China will be noted for its absence at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Just over a week ago the festival rebuffed the Chinese embassy, which wanted it to withdraw

Now in what looks like retaliation, the three Chinese filmakers scheduled to show their work at the festival, have withdrawn their films.

Presenter:Claudette Werden

Speaker: The Executive Director of the Melbourne International Film Festival, Richard Moore

MOORE: Independent film makers from China who live and work in China have decided to withdraw their films in reaction to the presence of Rebiya Kadeer who is going to come here as a guest of the film makers and be at the film festival.

WERDEN: How many films are we talking about?

MOORE: Today we lost three films

WERDEN: And do you believe any pressure was placed on them by the Chinese government?

MOORE: Look it's hard to tell, I can only go on the stated reasons that the producers have communicated to me in the form of an email communication and they set out very clearly that it's all in relation to the documentary about the Uighar ethnic community in the western provinces of China and the documentary is about Rebiya Kadeer and I think the fact that she will be here live in Australia has probably added insult to injury.

WERDEN: You're not having a very good week, I understand Ken Loach has withdrawn his film?

MOORE: Lets say I'm having a challenging week, one wishes for publicity when you're a festival director and we have a festival that opens in 3 or 4 days, I can't remember now but films dropping out at the last moment is not particularly good from an organisational perspective but I have to say at the other end of it, sales are going strongly.

WERDEN: And why did he withdraw his film?

MOORE: Ken Loach withdrew his film in reaction to some cultural funding we receive from the state of Israel. Ken Loach's politics has been known for a long time but this was not a situation we envisaged and he wanted us to withdraw the funding we received from the state of Israel which we get along with other state institutions and embassies which help us. We're an independent arts organisation, we get 5 per cent of our funding only from government, we rely on box office, I refused to withdraw that funding from the state of Israel because what I think he is doing is a form of cultural blackmail and he decided therefore to withdraw his film.

WERDEN: Lets go back to the China situation, is there anything you can do, can they be persuaded to resubmit their films?

MOORE: No I don't think so, I think it's beyond that point, we've had to make a whole lot of program changes, call in a whole lot of new films and if that's their position or their stated position then we have no choice but to take their films out of the festival, it's very unfortunate and we're not happy about it at all.

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