Venice Film Festival Credits Taiwanese Film to China

The Venice Film Festival’s classification of a Taiwanese film as a joint production with China has met with indignant opposition from the filmmakers, with backing from authorities in . From The Guardian:

A protest has been filed by Taiwan’s Government Information Office, as well as the production company ARS. Jimmy Huang, producer of Seediq Bale, said: “It’s a pure Taiwan-made film and not a film made by Taiwan in cooperation with China ….”

There has been a history of the national status of a film becoming part of the diplomatic interchange. Similar protests emerged when ’s Lust, Caution was listed under “Taiwan, China” at Venice in 2007. In 2010, the Shanghai film festival was forced to cancel plans for a Taipei Film Week after the Taiwanese organisers showed concern that films be described as from “Taiwan, China” – in effect, implying Taiwan is part of China, rather than an independent entity ….

It’s possible the “China” may have arisen after the participation of Hong Kong film-maker John Woo as executive producer. Woo is overseeing an “international cut”, drawn from the film’s two-part, four-and-a-half-hour running time.

However, Ann Hui’s ‘Taojie’, also among the competing films, is listed as from “China-Hong Kong, China“. Woo’s involvement would therefore presumably have led to a “China-Hong Kong, Taiwan” designation, rather than the actual “China, Taiwan“. (The festival’s listing uses commas to separate entrants’ multiple countries of origin, e.g. “Israel, Germany” or “France, Belgium, Germany”; if China wished to take counteroffence, it might start there.)

While no films from mainland China will be competing at the festival, Chinese brands have been storming multiplex screens elsewhere, with increasingly prominent product placement. From The Telegraph:

Transformers 3, a summer blockbuster, was the latest movie to see a host of Chinese brands pay for the right to place their products on screen. At least four Chinese brands were among the 68 companies who paid to have their products featured in the film ….

Spokesmen for the various brands said the decision to advertise through the Transformers film was part of an attempt to branch out into foreign markets. With companies such as Apple now finding a firm foothold on Chinese soil, and indeed now outselling the likes of Lenovo, Chinese companies are increasingly diversifying their markets.

However, other commentators suggested that the brands had used the Transformers movie, which is hugely popular in China, to boost their standing on the mainland. According to the Economic Observer newspaper, while Chinese are loath to see product placement in their domestic television series, they enjoy watching Chinese brands in international movies because of a sense of patriotism.