‘Seediq Bale’ row rumbles on

FILM FUROR::Ang Lee’s film ‘Lust, Caution,’ which won the Golden Lion in 2007, was identified as from ‘Taiwan, China.’ Efforts to change the designation ended in vain

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 - Page 2

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said the government was “dissatisfied” with the Venice Film Festival for labeling Taiwanese film Seediq Bale (賽德克巴萊) as made in “China, Taiwan,” and had demanded that a correction be made before the festival opens next Wednesday.

“In order to safeguard the dignity of the nation and to ensure the rights of Taiwanese to participate in the film festival, we will continue to negotiate over the matter. The designation ‘China, Taiwan’ is unacceptable,” ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) said.

The film, a depiction of an uprising led by Mona Rudao, leader of a Sediq Aboriginal tribe, against the Japanese colonial government, is based on the Wushe Incident (霧社事件) in 1930. It was directed by Wei Te-sheng (魏德聖).

“Normally, the country of origin of a film is based on the nationality of its director, but the Venice Film Festival has taken a tough line preventing films from being defined as Taiwanese,” said an official with the Government Information Office (GIO) who wished to remain anonymous.

Ang Lee’s (李安) Lust, Caution (色戒), which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2007, was identified as “Taiwan, China” when the government’s efforts to have the designation changed ended in vain, the GIO official said.

Seediq Bale is one of 22 feature films holding their world premieres at the festival in competition for the Golden Lion award.

On the festival’s Web site, the film is labeled a “China, Taiwan” production in the list of feature films being shown, while the list of countries represented at the 68th Venice International Film Festival has Taiwan listed simply as “Taiwan.”

The ministry and the GIO yesterday offered different explanations about the discrepancy in the two references to Taiwan on the Web site.

Chang said the organizers referred to the country as “Taiwan” when it listed its participants after the government protested against the country-of-origin label of the film, adding that the ministry has made progress in its negotiations in this regard.

However, the GIO official said the country has been identified as “Taiwan” in the list of participants on the festival’s Web site from the very beginning.

The film will have its global premiere in Venice on Sept. 1.

Scheduled to be released in Taiwan next month under the title Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (彩虹戰士:賽德克巴萊), the film will have its Taiwanese premiere on Sept. 4 on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei in front of the Presidential Office in a tent able to seat 600 people.

Production director Jimmy Huang (黃志明) said the number of pre-sold tickets in Taiwan have already exceeded 90,000.

Additional reporting by Chang Ching-chen

Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer