The curtain fell on the 56th Asia-Pacific Film Festival on Sunday with a star-studded awards ceremony at the Venetian Macao resort hotel.
However, behind the scenes, board members of the organizing committee argued vehemently over the participation of a delegation from Beijing at the annual event, according to local media reports.
Some Taiwanese filmmakers expressed concerns about China’s dominance in future festival activities and several of their Hong Kong counterparts questioned why the festival’s permanent secretariat in Taipei approved Beijing’s participation without prior consultation with representatives of other member cities.
The Asia-Pacific Film Festival was inaugurated in 1953, with Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and several other Asia-Pacific countries as founding members.
National titles were used at the event until 1977. Because of political interference from China, city names have replaced national titles to identify delegations at the annual festival since 1978.
As Taiwan has often fallen victim to China’s political suppression in the international film arena, some Taiwanese filmmakers did not hide their concerns about the possible adverse impact of Beijing’s admission to the annual film festival.
They recalled an episode in 2010 when the Chinese delegation demanded that organizers of the Tokyo International Film Festival change Taiwan’s designation to one that implied it was a part of China.
Some Taiwanese filmmakers urged the Ministry of Culture to confront the latest development head-on and take precautions to protect the nation’s interests.
For years, Taiwan has played a guiding role in the Asia-Pacific Film Festival. Critics said they are worried that Beijing’s entry could diminish Taiwan’s influence on the event or might even eventually lead to its ouster from the organization.
The Asia-Pacific Film Festival has been an important international arena for Taiwan and China has tried, but failed, to join the group on several occasions. Meanwhile, Taiwan has succeeded in its bid to make Taipei home to the event’s permanent secretariat.
It has also reportedly been learned that Beijing’s admission to the recent festival was not approved by the festival’s board of directors and supervisors.
Instead, Asia-Pacific Film Festival permanent secretariat chief executive officer Justin Chou (周守訓) personally approved Beijing’s admission to the event immediately after receiving an application from Beijing.
Chou said the days were gone when Taiwan relied on the Asia-Pacific Film Festival to enhance its international profile.
“I am pleased to see as many cities as possible take part in the event, to boost the development of the filmmaking industry,” Chou said.
Beijing’s membership is still subject to discussion at a board meeting to be held in Bangkok in March next year.
Chou said the organization will undergo a major overhaul next year, with all members required to reregister their membership.
“We intend to attract as many cities around the world as possible to participate in the annual filmmaking competition,” Chou said.
He added that he wanted to expand the event’s brand recognition.
Taipei City’s Department of Culture Director Liu Wei-kung (劉維公) said the city government hopes to win the right to host the 60th Asia-Pacific Film Festival in 2017.