Ang Lee, whose Oscar winner “Brokeback Mountain” was banned in China, has been selected as an arts and culture consultant for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
The 51-year-old Oscar winner will advise a creative team headed by fellow helmer Zhang Yimou that also includes Steven Spielberg, according to the Beijing organizing committee’s (BOCOG) Web site.
China considers Taiwan a renegade province that will one day be returned to the fold, by force if necessary. Lee was born in southern Taiwan and is viewed on the mainland as a native son.
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” made Lee a huge name in China in 2001 and there was a widespread outpouring of national pride when he picked up the best helmer gong for “Brokeback” this year.
However, homosexuality is still not widely acceptedin China and there was no way gay cowboy romance “Brokeback” would ever get a release on the Chinese mainland, though it was popular on pirate DVD.
Chinese state media also cut out the part of his acceptance speech in which he thanked, in Chinese, “everyone” in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong.
The Games are due to open on Aug. 8, 2008, and will close on Aug. 24.
The head of BOCOG, Liu Qi, congratulated the new team of consultants and said he hoped they would “with rich experience and far-reaching vision … provide precious suggestions and advice to the organizing team.”
After the ceremony, Lee and the other consultants were briefed by Zhang, who is directing the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, on the progress of the creative side and gave their opinions.
Last week, Olympic organizers introduced a program called “Vision Beijing,” in which five helmers from around the world will be asked to shoot a five-minute film to publicize Beijing. Italian helmer Giuseppe Tornatore will take part in the project, as will Iranian director Majid Majidi.