Here’s a short bit of good news for freedom of expression, brought to you by the City of Kaohsiung: Organizer Liu Hsiu-ying of the Kaohsiung Film Festival (KFF) announced yesterday that the festival, which will be held from Oct. 16 through Oct. 29, would screen Ten Conditions of Love, the documentary about World Uighur Congress leader Rebiya Kadeer. Fresh in memory is Beijing’s childish fit over the Melbourne Film Festival’s decision to present the documentary in early August, which resulted in cyber attacks against the festival’s Web site, the removal of Chinese-made films (including a co-production with Taiwan) and Chinese officials bullying of Australian government officials.
The theme of the festival, Liu said, will be “people power,” adding that the fact that none of the 70 films to be shown came from China was merely a “coincidence.” A likelier explanation for the absence of Chinese films, of course, is that movies about “people power” are simply not being made in China, because producing them would quickly land whoever is involved in the project in jail (or, at minimum, see all funding removed).
Coming on the heels of a visit to Taiwan of Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama — another “splittist” reviled by China — news that the KFF will be screening the documentary will likely further “anger” China … and perhaps even hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, which is a good thing, because whenever Beijing gets angry and its 1.3 billion people hurt, it means that we’re doing something right, something that corresponds with our values.
There are no news yet that Kaohsiung will imitate Melbourne by inviting Kadeer to attend the screening, but that, too, would be both desirable and interesting. In fact, it would be fascinating if Taiwan were at one point to host a festival featuring all the movies and documentaries that have been banned or censored in China, and invite artists and individuals that Beijing attempted to silence for addressing “forbidden” topics.
This is another great move by the south. Yes, it’s a bit of politics, but it’s also an expression of Taiwanese thirst for freedom and a message to the world that despite Taipei’s efforts to forge closer relations with authoritarian China, the people remain committed to safeguarding their identity and rights.