Beijing gets way on Taipei as To quits

Local | Sophie Hui 20 Sep 2019

Hong Kong film director Johnnie To Kei-fung has resigned as head of the Golden Horse Awards' jury.

The move comes after mainland and Hong Kong filmmakers withdrew from the Taiwanese movie festival this year, following a political dispute.

The film festival's executive committee yesterday said To resigned because of "previously signed film production contractual obligations."

"To expresses his regret and apology for the inconvenience, while the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival executive committee and chair Ang Lee show their understanding and wish him the best," the committee said in the statement.

The committee also announced that Taiwanese director Wang Toon will be the new president of the jury.

Wang, who will be honored with the Golden Horse Lifetime Achievement Award this year, has won at the awards seven times, including for best director, best production design and best costume design.

His movies have also won best feature film thrice and best animation feature once.

To was appointed in June to be this year's jury president for the awards, which will be held in November.

He has been nominated best director eight times at the Golden Horse Awards and won three times for The Mission in 2000, Breaking News in 2004 and Life Without Principle in 2012.

To also shares the distinction of winning the most best director awards at Golden Horse Awards to date" with Taiwanese directors Li Hsing and Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Hong Kong director Ann Hui On-wah.

Last month, China's film regulator said the mainland movie industry would be banned from participating in the Taiwanese awards.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said the Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan and the "Taiwan independence" forces should be held accountable for the mainland movie industry's withdrawal from the film festival.

In response to the boycott, some Hong Kong movies have been withdrawn, including The White Storm 2 - Drug Lords, Line Walker 2: Invisible Spy, Chasing the Dragon II: Wild Wild Bunch, and No 7 Cherry Lane.

A number of Hong Kong film production companies, including Media Asia Film, Universe Films, Emperor Motion Pictures and Mei Ah Entertainment, have also said they will not join this year's awards.

This year's awards ceremony will be held on November 23, the same day as the mainland's Golden Rooster film awards.

Last year, Taiwanese director Fu Yue spoke about Taiwan independence on stage after winning the Golden Horse for best documentary award with Our Youth in Taiwan, a movie about Taiwan's Sunflower movement in 2014.

Her speech got applause from the audience, but ignited fury in the mainland, where all online live broadcasts were immediately terminated and news reports censored.

Mainland actors at the awards kept silent over the independence issue, while other attendees pledged allegiance to the "one-country" principle.

Mainland entrants have been big winners at the awards since they were first invited to attend in 1996, with Xu Zheng winning best actor last year for his work in Dying to Survive.

Other winners include popular actresses Ma Sichun and Zhou Dongyu for 2016's Soul Mate.

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