A Taiwanese film director and a Chinese cinematographer were yesterday indicted for trespassing at a naval base in southern Taiwan.
The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office said the two men — director Doze Niu (鈕承澤) and Chinese cinematographer Cao Yu (曹郁) — violated the Vital Area Regulations (要塞堡壘地帶法) when they entered the Tsoying Naval Base on June 1 last year while scouting locations for Niu’s new film, Military Paradise (軍中樂園).
The offense is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Prosecutors said that Niu knew beforehand that Chinese are not allowed to enter Taiwanese military facilities, but used his fame as a director who was shooting a film about the military to get Cao into the base by using the identification card of a Taiwanese national.
Niu and Cao entered the base on a tour bus along with 23 other people, the prosecutors said.
The prosecutors said two South Koreans also entered the base that same day, but they were included on a list previously approved by Navy Command Headquarters through a film company. No charges were filed against them.
The prosecutors began a series of hearings on the case in July last year, summoning about a dozen people, including Niu, military personnel and film company staff.
The prosecutors watched a surveillance video taken on the day in question at the base and ruled out the possibility that Niu and Cao were attempting to obtain military intelligence or forge documents.
Niu, known for the Taiwanese blockbusters Monga (艋舺) and Love (愛), apologized on Facebook after the case first surfaced and pledged to reflect on what happened.
“Filmmakers have often gone overboard and resorted to all possible means to make a great work and it’s time to reflect,” he wrote at the time.
Cao has twice won the cinematography award at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Film Awards, regarded as the Chinese-language Oscars.
The navy yesterday said it respects the judicial process and would step up security checks at military facilities to prevent similar incidents from taking place in the future.
A navy official said that Niu changed the list of people who would be coming to the base without notification and added that the photo on the ID used by Cao looked so similar to the cinematographer that it was “impossible to tell them apart.”
Additional reporting by AFP