Actresses Vivian Hsu, right, and Janine Chang pull out of the “Green Carpet” opening event for the 23rd Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) after the tiff over sovereignty worsens.
Mixing film and politics once again, China has pulled out of the 23rd Tokyo International Film Festival after their request that Taiwan be referred to as “China’s Taiwan” or “Chinese Taipei” was rejected. After Taiwanese representatives said they would continue using the title “China and Taiwan” to introduce films, China announced it would boycott all festival related events leading to a confusing opening on Saturday night, with several anxious fans empty handed.
The Taiwanese delegation, headed by Chen Chih-kuan, director of the Government Information Office’s Department of Motion Pictures Affairs, was the person responsible for this rejection, holding his ground and advocating Taiwan’s ability to represent itself as a sovereign state. Having already represented itself multiple times as “Taiwan” in numerous film festivals in previous years, Chen Chih-kuan did not look to make changes any time soon, also adding that art should be separate from politics.
“If it weren’t for Jiang’s insistence, both delegations would have made it to the green carpet,” he told reporters.
Actors and actresses from both China and Taiwan were taken by surprise by this dispute and, amid the spat between the two, did not make the “green carpet walk” to rub shoulders with the other stars. Some of the A-list celebrities that has specially flown in last week to support films included Vivian Hsu, Chang Chun-ning, Ethan Ruan and Mark Chao.
The 23rd Tokyo International Film Festival was meant to screen nine Chinese-language films which are now removed from the list. Fortunately, two other Chinese films will still be taking part in the competition section of the festival, in addition to six Taiwanese box-office hits in the special Taiwan section.
Festival owners were shocked by the turn of events, saying this had never been an issue before. We also can not help but wonder if this sudden politicization of cultural affairs is partially instigated by the dispute over the last bits of frustration over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, killing two birds with one stone by souring the mood on Japanese soil.
With the ongoing dispute between China and Japan, emotions are still running strong through protests that have taken part over the past month. China has also had a reputation for being hypersensitive in how its portrayed in the cinematic world, and once again it has not failed to voice its feelings of distress.