The political impacts of the 58th Melbourne International Film Festival

In 2009, Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) released a documentary “The ten conditions of love” which brought a huge political argument for itself. At first, the documentary promoted itself as ” a brief history of the Uighurs’ love and sacrifice” (the Uighurs region which lives in the northwestern of China -Xinjiang region). However, the documentary has the strong political position which cannot be ignored- it promotes the independence of Uighurs region in Xinjiang.

 

However, as a local who grew up in Xinjiang, I think it is necessary to introduce the historical background of the “7.5” violence attack of Xinjiang capital city Urumqi.

“The violence left 197 people dead, most of the members of China’s majority Han ethnic group. And Rebiya Kadeer, the violence leader of China’s Uighur ethnic group who planned and implement the blood attack (Ramzy, 2009). “

 

For me, the things worth to pay attention that MIFF promoted itself “ no political position” but it stands the political side at the Rebiya Kadeer clearly. To be specific,  MIFF insist to release the documentary and invited Rebiya Kadeer to join the event; the festival organizer ignored the against voice from China aspect- firstly, they refused the demanded of the Chinese government: removing The 10 Conditions of Love from the festival’s program; besides, there has complete blank of Chinese film in 58th MIFF. Three Chinese directors withdraw their film from the MIFF to protest the inclusion of a documentary about a Uighur activist. It includes Zhangke Jia’s film Cry Me A river, Baixiao Tang’s film The perfect life and Liang Zhao’s film Petition. In addition, another four Chinese-language films from Hong Kong and Taiwan were withdrawn, their directors saying “the festival had become too politicized (Ramzy, 2009). ”

 

For that, the Festival Director Richard Moore only apologized for the absence of mainland films. To be honest, I cannot see the respect of the national diversity and culture diversity from 58th MIFF which they positioned and promoted itself. In fact, the absence of Chinese film is seen as not the big deal of the event from the response of festival organizers.

 

It enables me to consider a question that the film festival did bring the political impacts to the audiences. Personally, I would not watch the documentary cause I know the truth behind this documentary. I believed the film was factually inaccurate. But for the international audiences who watched the film- they absolutely affected by the documentary and might give their compassion to the Rebiya Kadeer. Thus, in my view, movie selection plays an important role in the film festival: it decides the content input of audiences. As Tyson (2017) argued that “the film selection potentially to incite divergent. It affects the political expression, dialogue and participation by film releasing”.

 

Overall, the 58th MIFF is a significant example which proves that the film festival brings the affection to the audience, especially the political impacts. More importantly, as an international film festival, MIFF should consider about its global influence seriously and treat the movie from the different country fairly.

 

Reference:

Ramzy, A (2009), ‘ Chinese Directors Protest Film on Uighur’s Kadeer’, http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1912617,00.html

http://miff.com.au/festival-archive/film/13491/10-conditions-of-love-the

 

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