Filmmaker Lee to help create Beijing ceremonies


BEIJING - Taiwan-born film maker Ang Lee has been appointed as an art and culture consultant for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, organizers said.

The 51-year-old Oscar winner will advise a creative team headed by Chinese film director Zhang Yimou and boasting American Steven Spielberg, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) said on its website.

Born in southern Taiwan, Lee went to the United States in 1978 to study film and became a household name after his martial arts movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" won several Academy Awards in 2001.

Beijing regards Taiwan as sovereign territory and censors any reference to the self-ruled island which suggests it is not part of "one China".

When Lee was named Best Director at the Academy Awards this year for the gay cowboy romance "Brokeback Mountain", part of his acceptance speech was censored by Chinese state media.

Lee used Chinese to thank "everyone" in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong -- and thanked the two gay cowboys at the heart of the film -- but state television cut the references out.

Homosexuality is also a highly sensitive subject and was considered a mental disorder in China as recently as 2001.

In lauding Lee's "Brokeback Mountain" achievement, state media also failed to report that the film would not be screened in mainland China and would only be viewable on pirated DVD.

Lee was one of several consultants appointed to assist in preparing the ceremonies, including International Olympic Committee (IOC) member He Zhenliang and Wu Zuqiang, a Chinese composer.

The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics will take place on August 8, 2008.