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Venice cavorts with controversy

Major movie festivals love to cavort with controversy. Venice is no exception. The 68th edition of the Venice International Film Festival said yes, finally, to Taiwan’s diplomatic “request” to change the nationality of a competition movie. Gautaman Bhaskaran reports...

hollywood Updated: Sep 02, 2011 17:31 IST
Gautaman Bhaskaran
Hindustan Times

Major movie festivals love to cavort with controversy. Venice is no exception.

The 68th edition of the Venice International Film Festival said yes, finally, to Taiwan’s diplomatic “request” to change the nationality of a competition movie, Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, directed by WEI Te-sheng.

The film was labelled as “Made in China, Taiwan”, but after month-long protests from the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry, the tag now reads “Chinese Taipei”

Taiwan is still not happy, though. Obviously, the movie’s $24- million budget came entirely from Taiwanese sources, and the country wants the label to read “Taiwan”.

While the island of Taiwan broke away from mainland China in 1949, when Communists came to power, and many consider Taiwan to be an independent State, Beijing sees it as a “rebel” that needs to be brought back.

Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale traces – in a yawn-evoking length – the 1930s Wushe rebellion that saw the native Taiwanese tribals attacking the occupying Japanese forces.

In the meantime, Chinese helmer Lou Ye -- whose bold and sexually provocative “Summer Palace” (with full frontal nudity), set against the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, premiered at 2006 Cannes against Beijing’s wishes, has a movie this time at Venice.

Called Love and Bruises and set mostly in Paris with content even more sexual than that in Summer Palace, the film screened at Venice in defiance of a five-year ban on Lou from making movies.

A romantic story of a Chinese girl and a French worker, Love and Bruises was described by Lou “as a symbol for political and social issues”. The girl in the film at one point returns to Beijing to be with her former boyfriend, but changes her mind and flies back to Paris.

“I can understand the girl’s feeling of being in between”, Lou told Variety. “Between different cultures, people, politics and culture, between different races and territories, sex and love, violence and tenderness, love and bruises, [is] a true human feeling, but lonely as well.”