MIFF fears further Chinese boycotts

MUMBAI: The organisers of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) fear more repercussions after all Chinese entries pulled out in protest over an appearance by exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer.

Six Chinese films were withdrawn, leaving organisers with a logistical headache and worried that Chinese movie makers will boycott the festival in future years. MIFF spokeswoman Louise Heseltine said that it was very disappointing that the films, which had been lined up could not be shown.

She said the festival also had lost sponsorship from Hong Kong and Taipei. "Chinese independent filmmakers who want their films screened in the future will be concerned that they will get into trouble,‘‘ Ms Heseltine said.

Kadeer - who Beijing blames for inciting recent ethnic violence in western China was granted a visa on last Wednesday for her third visit to Australia. The prominent Uighur businesswoman from Xinjiang in China‘s northwest is the subject of a documentary by Australian filmmaker Jeff Daniels.

The controversial documentary chronicles Kadeer‘s story of rising from poverty to becoming the seventh richest person in China and an advocate for the independence of her oil-rich Uighur homeland.

Chinese film makers started withdrawing their work after the festival refused a request from the Chinese consulate in Melbourne to pull Daniels‘ film about three weeks ago.
The festival‘s website was also hacked into.

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