Crew from a Taiwanese film company spent hours filming former members of general Claire Lee Chennault’s Flying Tigers and his granddaughter in the US on Tuesday for a documentary commissioned by Academia Historica that could have a strong pro-China flavor.
Nell Calloway, director of the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum and Chennault’s granddaughter, as well as several local members of the Flying Tigers — the famous air wing created by Chennault during World War II — will feature in the documentary.
After Japan’s surrender, Chennault, an ally of former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), created the CIA’s clandestine Civil Air Transport (CAT) and Air America, which flew missions into China to drop agents and do reconnaissance against the communists. CAT also provided support for anti-communist forces in northern Burma (now known as Myanmar) and Tibet against Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) Chinese Communist Party troops.
On Tuesday, a group from SKYEYE Film Production spent hours filming in Monroe, Louisiana, for the documentary, which is to be completed by the end of this year.
According to the Monroe News Star, the documentary will be used by Academia Historica, which will distribute the film for “educational purposes.”
Every year, Academia Historica selects an individual who has contributed to the Republic of China and honors that person through exhibits and a documentary, the Star quoted Luke Cheng, SKYEYE’s producer assistant, as saying.
The Taipei Times has learned that Academia Historica, through a bidding process, commissioned the making of the documentary to CtiTV, a media arm of the Want Want China Times Group, which is known for its pro-China views and whose chairman, Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明), has made his fortune there.
Speaking with the Times on condition of anonymity last night, an official at Academia Historica denied the documentary would be used for educational purposes, and said it would be treated “like any other release” — a release that is likely to emphasize opposition to Japan while playing down Chennault’s anti-communism.
According to its Facebook page, SKYEYE, also a Want Want China Times Group subsidiary, was founded in June 2009 to produce documentaries that trace historical events in Taiwan and across the Taiwan Strait. Its mission statement says that in spite of growing cross-strait economic exchanges, cross-strait relations will be better strengthened through cultural exchanges, as people from both sides of the Strait are descedents of the Chinese culture.
Its objective, it says, is to boost cross-strait ties and development, and to use footage from both sides to “eternalize the longstanding Chinese culture.”
Cheng told the Star that Chennault had helped China build its air force and he “helped us during World War II and during the invasion from Japan.”
Taiwan was part of Japan at the time.
“In my country, all the Chinese remember General Chennault,” he was quoted as saying.
Calloway said she had never imagined the small museum in Monroe “would be sought out by Chinese groups looking to preserve their own history,” the Star wrote, adding that the filmmakers’ desire to travel to Monroe and visit the museum “shows the Chinese people want to continue to tell that story.”
“This is just another indication of the Chinese and their appreciation of history,” she added.
“I think he would be very proud to know he is the reason we are coming back together with the Chinese people,” Calloway said, speaking of her grandfather.
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