China’s main entry to the Tokyo International Film Festival has apparently been pulled, the event’s organizers said today, as a bitter row with Japan over islands spilled over to the arts.
But the festival’s secretariat said it would still screen Wang Jing’s “Feng Shui” – the only Chinese film nominated for the festival’s grand prize – because it had not received formal notification.
A statement carried on China’s state-run Xinhua news agency on Thursday said the producers were withdrawing the film in protest over the island spat.
“The Japanese government and right-wingers have not shown a sincere attitude regarding the settlement of the dispute, which has seriously hurt the Chinese people’s feelings,” it said.
The 25th annual festival is scheduled to be held from Saturday to October 28 this year, featuring 15 international films nominated for its top award, the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix.
The decades-old dispute over sovereignty of the Japanese-administered Senkaku islands, which China calls the Diaoyus, flared again in August and September.
Street protests erupted in China, sometimes targeting Japanese firms, and diplomatic blows were traded at the United Nations General Assembly.
But on Friday the head of the festival’s secretariat said they would show the Chinese film as planned.
“We have received an email from an unnamed sender that had attached to it a joint statement purportedly from the film’s three production firms, which said they are withdrawing the film,” Nobushige Toshima said.
“The statement didn’t have any representative’s name, signature or seal on it,” he said. “Therefore, we haven’t received any formal communication so at the moment we are due to screen the film as planned.”
Today, the film’s distributor, Beijing Antaeus Film Co. Ltd., confirmed on its microblog the film had been withdrawn.
“Because of tense relations between China and Japan, ‘Feng Shui’ was withdrawn from the Tokyo Film Festival,” the firm said.
The distributor said in a posting late on Thursday: “In the current environment, ‘Feng Shui’ chose to give up when it was close to success, indeed it is a pity for the film but a pride for the Chinese people.”