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TOKYO – The screening of Chinese film Feng Shui will go ahead at the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) Monday night as scheduled despite a a last-minute no-show by the film’s cinematographer at a press conference and a request to pull it from the lineup.
Director Wang Jing and actor Jiao Gang canceled their visits to Tokyo, and one of the Chinese production companies has asked its screening to be pulled due to recent Chinese-Japanese political tensions over a territorial dispute.
“Who sent the statement requesting the withdrawal was unclear, it was unsigned and therefore we didn’t take it as an official notification,” said TIFF programming director Nobushige Toshima, referring to a communication received on Friday. “We have now received an official request to withdraw the film, but we are planning to go ahead with the screening as planned.”
Explained Toshima: “Yesterday we were told the cinematographer would attend the press conference and answer questions. He is in Japan, and we were talking about how we would handle the press conference. However, he has now told us he needed permission from the production company in order to engage in any promotional activities.”
That permission was evidently not forthcoming.
A statement from the young cinematographer was read out at the press conference. “I came to TIFF as a cinematographer, as one of the crew who made this film. I’m very sorry, but I’m not able to speak on behalf of the production company. I hope people can still enjoy the film.”
Rumors have been circulating that the film was being pulled from the festival by its producers over recent political tensions between China and Japan over a group of small, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. The islands, known by the Chinese as Diaoyu, and by the Japanese as Senakaku, are claimed by both sides and have burst into the spotlight again recently after a plan by the Japanese government to buy them from their private owners sparked an angry reaction in China.
However, the film is still scheduled to have its world premiere at TIFF, with the Chinese production companies involved reportedly divided over whether it should bow in Tokyo in the current climate.
“TIFF is a film festival, it is not a place for politics, it’s a place for cultural exchange,” said Toshima in response to a question from The Hollywood Reporter about whether going ahead with the screening despite the request to halt it might further raise tensions at a sensitive time in the relations between China and Japan. “If it’s a great film, it doesn’t matter if it’s from China or not. Both sides signed an agreement to screen the film, and we will show the film according to that agreement.”
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