The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday said it had not ruled out taking legal action against film director Doze Niu (鈕承澤) for helping a Chinese cinematographer enter a military base and board a navy vessel.
Navy Command Headquarters said Niu and a 23-member production team visited the Zuoying (左營) military port in Greater Kaohsiung on June 1 to scout for locations for his new film, Military Paradise (軍中樂園), which is scheduled to begin shooting next month.
Although security officers asked to look at the team members’ national ID cards before they entered the port, the military later discovered that Chinese photographer Cao Yu (曹郁) had entered the base by using the identity of a Republic of China (ROC) citizen, the headquarters said.
Niu and his team boarded an LST-208 vessel, but were only allowed to take photographs of part of the outdated ship, the headquarters said.
The ministry said it had warned Niu against violating regulations governing the protection of military secrets two times before his visit.
The navy said yesterday that it would review the incident to see if there had been any negligence on its part, adding that it would turn over evidence about the team’s visit to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office today for an investigation.
When reached for comment yesterday morning, ministry spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said the ministry would take legal action against Niu if he broke the law.
“Given that Niu’s actions violated the principle of good faith and our agreement that no Chinese citizens would enter the military base, the ministry is considering whether to end its assistance for his film shoot,” Lo said.
The military has provided assistance to several TV stations and movie companies in producing shows and films with military links in the past, and none had ever violated regulations, Lo said.
Niu offered an apology on his Facebook page yesterday.
“I might have gone overboard in order to make a better film,” he wrote.
“The recent events have given me a chance to reflect on myself. Film directors always resort to every conceivable means to make a good movie, but it is about time that we do some self-reflection. I should be more humble and gentle, and should be more grateful and respectful of everything,” he wrote.
Sources familiar with the law said Cao could be guilty of document forgery and violating Article 10 of the Vital Area Regulations (要塞堡壘地帶法) if he entered the port using a ROC citizen’s ID card.
Cao may have also violated Article 111 of the Criminal Code and the National Security Act (國家安全法) if he photographed or filmed other naval facilities, the sources said.
Under Article 111, any person who illegally gathers information concerning the defense of the ROC could face imprisonment.
Cao has twice won photography awards at the Golden Horse movie festival.
Additional reporting by AP
This story has been corrected since published to reflect that Cao Yu is a cinematographer, not a photographer.