Feng Xiaogang slams MIFF over Uighur doc

Chinese director calls film's subject 'a political liar'

BEIJING -- Chinese hitmaker Feng Xiaogang has slammed the Melbourne International Film Festival for including a documentary on Muslim Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer, who Beijing said was behind recent ethnic riots that left 192 dead in western China.

Feng, a household name in China for films such as "If You Are the One," told the Xinhua News Agency on Thursday that festivals should provide a platform for cultural and artistic exchange, but that organizers of the 58th MIFF, set to start Friday, "have turned it into a political drama by inviting Rebiya Kadeer, a political liar."

Feng's comments follow the withdrawal of three Chinese films this week from the MIFF lineup by their directors, after Chinese consular officials in Australia complained about the inclusion of "10 Conditions of Love," the film profiling Kadeer.

Kadeer, who is in exile in the U.S., is expected to be a guest at the festival.

Chinese leaders and state-controlled media have widely vilified Kadeer as terrorist, blaming her for inciting the July 5 riots in Urumqi, the capital of the largely Muslim Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

According to Xinhua, Jia Zhangke, whose films "Cry Me a River" and "Perfect Life" were scheduled to screen at the fest, told festival organizers in a letter that responsibility for the riot ultimately lay with Kadeer and her organization, the World Uighur Congress.

Chief MIFF organizer Richard Moore told The Hollywood Reporter this week that the festival stands by its decision to program the documentary on Kadeer, made by Australian director Jeff Daniels.

As result of the withdrawals, no films from China will screen at this year's event.