Chinese director Zhu Yu withdraws film from Taiwan's Golden Horse awards

South China Morning Post Dipublikasikan 16.08, 18/08/2019
Chinese director Zhu Yu withdraws film from Taiwan's Golden Horse awards

Chinese documentary director Zhu Yu, who previously was ready to defy Beijing's boycott of Taiwan's Golden Horse awards, has withdrawn from the film festival.

The Beijing Film Academy graduate announced on an unverified Weibo account on Saturday that she and her film, Young People Question Taoism, would no longer be in the running for the high-profile awards.

"I will completely abide by the orders of the China Film Administration, but when I signed up, the (Chinese) administration had not announced the news (of the boycott)," she said on the social network.

"I'm an ordinary citizen, not a celebrity … so nobody read about the news of me withdrawing from the competition," she said. "In fact, there were many rumours and much cyberbullying - my safety has been threatened, so I'm making this clarification now."

Zhu did not respond to a request for comment.

The Taoist priests in the documentary go on a pilgrimage as they seek the true meaning of their faith. Photo: Handout

The documentary follows four young Taoist priests on a 600km (370 mile) pilgrimage through China as they seek the true meaning of their faith, stopping along the way to pray for the souls of dead animals.

Its Taiwanese promoter, who did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, said he had not received any notification of Zhu's withdrawal, but said her announcement on Weibo should be seen as official.

The promoter earlier told the South China Morning Post he had asked Zhu if she wanted to pull out of the festival to avoid further trouble, given the sensitive climate, but she insisted that she wanted to stick to her original plan to enter the film and did not fear any media backlash on the mainland.

A statement from the promoter on Wednesday said the film would continue to be registered for the Golden Horse Film Festival Awards in November. It was still included in the festival's preliminary selection process, the statement said, with the finalists to be announced in October.

Dubbed the "Chinese-language Oscars", Taiwan's Golden Horse awards are one of the most prestigious in Asia, with most entries coming from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Since Beijing announced the boycott of the Golden Horse awards on August 7 amid rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait, several Hong Kong production companies have announced that none of their films would be entered and none of their stars would take part in the ceremony.

Several mainland media outlets also questioned why Zhu had not made a public announcement on the festival. Pro-Beijing website The Observer called for the film to be withdrawn in an opinion piece on August 9 titled, "Young people question Taoism, you're the only one left".

"The documentary maker needs to respond as to whether it is signed up (for the awards). If it is, we hope they will carefully consider this and withdraw the film. If they insist and even cooperate with the Taiwanese authorities, unified condemnation and contempt awaits," the opinion piece read.

Liang Xingyang, a certified Taoist in mainland China, also questioned the director's stance.

"What a shame this is," he wrote on Weibo. "You are the only (mainland) film director insisting on taking part in this festival."

In response, Zhu said on the microblogging site that Liang had turned his fans on her and encouraged their patriotism to attack her, threatening her safety and reputation.

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