Mon, Jul 18, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Taiwanese directors give full support to Leon Dai

AWARD CEREMONY:Filmmakers Kevin Lee, Lin Cheng-sheng and Ko I-chen criticized the Chinese backlash against their colleague that has cost him the lead in a film

By Tsou Nien-tsu and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Taiwanese filmmaker Kevin Lee (李惠仁) on Saturday compared China to Takeshi Gouda, a schoolboy character from the Japanese cartoon Doraemon known for resorting to violence whenever he meets with events he does not like.

Commenting on director-actor Leon Dai’s (戴立忍) recent firing from a job in China, Lee compared Taiwan’s relationship with China to that of Doraemon’s protagonist Nobita and Takeshi, known by his nickname, Gian, saying: “If we all live in fear of Gian, then we will all be like Nobita. We can’t all be like Nobita!”

The Taiwanese Dai was replaced as the lead actor in the film No Other Love (沒有別的愛) by its investors because of his “vague” political positions after he was accused by some Chinese of supporting “Taiwanese independence” because of his participation in the Sunflower movement and a campaign by high-school students against changes to history curriculum guidelines.

Lee made the remarks after receiving the Media Jury Award at the Taipei Film Festival on Saturday night for his film The Taste of Apples (蘋果的滋味).

“Luckily I am not in China today receiving this award,” the documentary filmmaker said. “If I were, I would probably be made to commit ‘suicide,’ or made to disappear, because this film discusses Taiwanese independence, Tibetan independence, Xinjiang independence, the Falun Gong and even the Tiananmen Square Massacre.”

He also made references to the disappearance of several Hong Kong booksellers late last year and a Chinese netizen’s criticism of Taiwanese artists for not reposting a map that includes Taiwan with the message: “China, cannot be one bit less” (中國,一點都不能少).

“Many thanks to those before us who fought hard for our democracy, who made it possible for us to enjoy freedom as naturally as we breathe. Thanks to them we need not be forced to say ‘China cannot be one bit less,’ we do not need to clarify that we are not ‘Taiwan independence supporters,’” Lee said.

His comments came after Dai issued a 3,000-character statement on Friday night to say that he had “never supported Taiwan independence,” and he believed that he is “an authentic Chinese.”

Several other directors also spoke up for Dai.

Labeling the actor a supporter of “Taiwanese independence” was proof that China is under the influence of “pervasive, narrow-minded nationalism and in the midst of a barbarous ideological struggle,” Lin Cheng-sheng (林正盛) said. “This narrow-minded Chinese nationalism really brings a person grief.”

Ko I-chen (柯一正), who has been to anti-nuclear and other demonstrations with Dai, said: “This is really unfair to Dai. He never discusses politics with us. He only speaks out about what he sees as unfair or unjust in society. Unless there is some evidence that he has said something before, it is not right to do something so harmful to a hardworking actor who respects the industry so much.”

Some observers said that Dai’s statement was aimed at protecting Chinese actress Zhao Wei (趙薇), the director of No Other Love, whom he was worked with several times, as well as his girlfriend, Taiwanese actress Gwei Lun-mei (桂綸鎂), and film crews he has worked with.

More conspiracy-minded theorists say that it is interesting Chinese netizens are more interested in No Other Love than in the big budget Chinese-South Korean production Peaceful Island (平安島), which might indicate that it is not Dai or Zhao who are the real targets of the criticism, but Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma (馬雲).

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