Two Greater Taichung councilors on Monday clarified comments they made last week that city funds injected into Ang Lee’s (李安) new film Life of Pi have not helped promote Taichung.
During a question-and-answer session at the council, Democratic Progressive Party Greater Taichung councilors Hsieh Chih-chung (謝志忠) and Tsai Ya-ling (蔡雅玲) said their comments on Friday were misunderstood.
The two councilors had earlier questioned the municipal government’s subsidy after the first publicity still for the film was released, saying the image did not show any connection to Taichung.
The city had given the movie’s production team NT$50 million (US$1.71 million) in a bid to promote the city, where a large part of the film was shot.
Hsieh said the image, which shows only a man and a tiger in a boat, but nothing relating to Taichung, was not the way to promote the city.
Hsieh and Tsai said their comments were not intended to target Lee and that they fully supported the film project. They said that they raised their concerns only to make sure taxpayers’ money was being spent wisely.
Hsieh said he was not demanding that images of Taichung be included in the film, but was only expressing his belief that doing so would be a more effective way of attracting visitors to the city.
As of 4pm on the day he made the comments, more than 50 netizens had left comments criticizing his questions on his blog.
A spoof of the publicity still had also begun circulating online, in which a sun cake — a pastry that is a Taichung specialty — has been added to the tiger’s mouth to ridicule the councilors’ comments.
Shih Jing-wen (石靜文), director of the city’s Information Bureau, said the misunderstanding was likely caused by people unfamiliar with the virtual studio used for the film.
Responding to the councilors’ comments earlier, Shih underlined the economic benefits brought to the city during the film’s nearly one-year shooting period.
Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) said no film producers would make movies in Taichung if a condition is imposed that images of the city be included in each production.