Three Chinese films have been pulled from the Melbourne Film Festival after execs refused to bend to pressure from China and yank the world preem of a doc about the plight of ethnic minority Uighurs.
The withdrawals came five days after the fest said it would persist with sold-out screenings for helmer Jeff Daniels’ “The 10 Conditions of Love,” about exiled leader Rebiya Kadeer’s fight in support of the rights of China’s 10 million Uighurs.
In a letter to the festival, Jia Zhangke, producer of “Perfect Life” and whose company also produced “Cry Me a River,” said he withdrew both movies to protest Kadeer’s attendance at the event. She is due to appear at an Aug. 8 screening of “The 10 Conditions of Love.”
“Petition,” a doc directed by Zhao Liang examining injustices in China’s court system, has also been pulled.
Fest topper Richard Moore said he could not confirm if the filmmakers had been pressured by the Chinese government to withdraw their pics.
Moore went public about last week’s demand from China’s embassy in Melbourne not to show “The 10 Conditions of Love.” As a result, all sessions of the doc were sold out and extra ones were scheduled.
In another blow to the fest earlier in the week, Brit helmer Ken Loach pulled his Cannes player “Looking for Eric,” saying he could not support an event that had accepted funding from the state of Israel — the embassy is supporting Israeli-born filmmaker Tatia Rosenthal, who will visit the fest to answer questions about Annie Award-winning feature “$9.99,” an Australian-Israeli production.
Loach wrote to Moore, saying he was not protesting Israeli films or filmmakers, but objected to Israel’s “illegal occupation of Palestinian land, destruction of homes and livelihoods.”
But Moore said the festival would not bow to “blackmail.”
Replacement films have not yet been announced for the 17-day fest, Australia’s preeminent sprocket opera, which opens Friday with the world preem of Robert Connolly’s “Balibo,” starring Anthony LaPaglia.