The Taipei Economic and Relations Office (TECO) in Australia said yesterday it had proposed to the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) that it resume its status as a “cultural partner” after sponsorship was annulled when a Taiwanese film was withdrawn by its Hong Kong production company last month.
TECO’s Information Division Director Jerry Chuang (莊正安) told the Taipei Times in a telephone interview that his office had made the pitch to the organizer and was waiting for an answer.
Chuang said the sponsorship became void when feature film Miao Miao was pulled, but when it was pointed out that Taiwan still had two short films — Joyce Agape and The Pursuit of What Was —in the event, TECO decided the conditions of the sponsorship hadn’t changed.
“We are eager to resume our sponsorship to show our full support for the festival,” Chuang said.
The proposal came amid a China-initiated boycott of the festival surrounding the presentation of a documentary on the life of World Uighur Congress president Rebiya Kadeer and an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report on Saturday that said: “All Chinese-language films were withdrawn from the festival in protest, and Hong Kong and Taipei’s trade offices both pulled their sponsorship.”
Contacted by the Taipei Times on Monday for comment before the resumption of sponsorship idea had been floated, festival spokeswoman Louise Heseltine said: “We never said the Taiwan Trade Office withdrew funding.”
“The festival receives funding from both the Hong Kong Trade Office and TECO based on the festival screening films from those regions,” Heseltine said.
However, “if there are no Hong Kong or Taiwanese films screening at the festival, then the sponsorship agreement becomes void,” said Heseltine, who once lived in Taiwan.
Last week the festival announced that Miao Miao, by Taiwanese director Cheng Hsiao-tse (程孝澤), was among the seven Chinese-language films pulling out of the festival. The movie was produced by Wong Kar-Wai (王家衛), Jacky Pang (彭綺華) and Stanley Kwan Kam-pang (關錦鵬). Its distributors in Taiwan and Hong Kong are Golden Scene and Warner Bros International respectively. The international distributor is the Netherlands-based Fortissimo Films, which has a branch office in Hong Kong.
In an e-mail to the Taipei Times yesterday, Courtney Noble, director of Festivals and Markets at Fortissimo Films in Amsterdam, wrote: “We received a formal request from the producer/owners of the film [Miao Miao] that it be pulled. As we have a contractual obligation with them and all of our producers to follow their instructions, we proceeded to do so.”
“The Melbourne Festival with whom our company has a longstanding relationship was extremely gracious and cooperative in immediately agreeing to this request,” Noble said.