TGIO raps Jettone over 'Miao'

Taiwan organization may fine, ban production company

HONG KONG -- Hong Kong-Taiwan co-production “Miao Miao” is under investigation by Taiwan’s Government Information Office over its entry and subsequent withdrawal from the Melbourne International Film Festival.

The unexplained removal of the the film may result in the TGIO penalizing both the film and its production company.“The contract for the grant stipulated that to enter any film festival, ‘Miao Miao’ has to be presented firstly as a Taiwanese film, and secondly as a production of Jettone (Taiwan),” Frank J.K. Chen, director of Taiwan’s Government Information Office, Department of Motion Picture Affairs, told the Hollywood Reporter. Jettone (Taiwan) is the sister company of director Wong Kar-wai’s Jettone (Hong Kong).

“If we find ‘Miao Miao’ in breach of contract by entering the festival not as a Taiwanese film and/or under Jettone (Hong Kong), we will demand a full refund of the funding, as well as forbidding Jettone (Taiwan) from applying for government film grants in Taiwan in the next three years, from the time a conclusion has been made,” Chen said.

The TGIO granted the film a NT$4 million (US$121,914) subsidy.The Taiwan Government Information Office has asked its affiliate in Melbourne and Jettone to submit evidence of the film’s MIFF entry application before August 7, but the investigation has been delayed due to typhoon Morakot, which shut down the island last Friday.

Jettone (Taiwan) released a Chinese-language statement which declared “Miao Miao” entered MIFF and all other festivals as a Taiwan/Hong Kong film, and that Jettone (Taiwan) was the company stated in the submitted application.“Miao Miao” pulled out of MIFF amidst a political controversy, which saw all Chinese and Hong Kong films withdrawn when a documentary about Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer participated in the festival. The Chinese government has blamed Kadeer for fomenting ethnic violence in China's northwestern Xinjiang region in July, and demanded that the documentary be withdrawn. MIFF declined to pull it.

“We believe that the festival has become an arena for political tussle, which affects the premise of the festival, which is for the exchange of cultural and artistic ideas. For this reason we decided to withdraw. We believe that film as art should override politics,” Jettone (Taiwan) said in a statement. It also said that the film’s withdrawal was “an independent decision,", and added that the company will not respond to any questions about the political discussion from now on.