Uighur film being shunned due to China fears: producer

Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:20am EDT
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TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - International movie distributors have shunned a film on exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer, whom China condemns as a separatist, because they fear Beijing's wrath, the film's producer said on Tuesday.

As "The 10 Conditions of Love" finishes showing at a Taiwan film festival this week, it lacks new venues as potential takers in Canada, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands and Britain turned it down, producer John Lewis told a media conference.

"We have an international sales agent in London. They say we've sold to very very few broadcasters," said Lewis, who is based in Australia. "The head of the sales agency tells me the film is too sensitive, too poignant, too controversial."

Several film festivals have also declined the film, Lewis said, although event organizers in Hong Kong and Turkey have expressed interest.

Kadeer, a former businesswoman, now leads the World Uighur Congress, which demands self-rule for the region in far west China. The Chinese government has accused her of instigating ethnic riots that left about 200 people dead in early July. She has repeatedly denied those claims.

The hour-long film, which cost $10,900, follows Kadeer's efforts to help the ethnic Uighurs resist Han Chinese rule in Xinjiang, her imprisonment and her escape to the United States.

Lewis said he was talking to a television network and a cinema distributor in Taiwan, where anti-China opposition figures have already arranged more than 10 informal showings, drawing criticism from Beijing.

China has claimed self-ruled Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong's forces won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists (KMT) fled to the island. Taiwan's main opposition party advocates formal independence from China.

A furor also erupted in Australia earlier this year after Chinese embassy staff pressed unsuccessfully for the documentary to be removed from the country's biggest film festival, prompting an angry public backlash and higher audience numbers.

(Reporting by Ralph Jennings, editing by Miral Fahmy)