More than 20 festival heads and programmers have signed a statement in support of the Beijing Independent Film Festival, which was shut down by Chinese authorities last weekend.
The statement expresses deep concern over the closure of the festival and a raid on the offices of the festival’s organiser, the Li Xianting Film Fund, during which the organisation’s complete archives of independent films and related research materials were confiscated.
Signatories to the statement include festival chiefs such as Rotterdam’s Rutger Wolfson, Sydney’s Nashen Moodley, Torino Film Festival’s Emanuela Martini and New York Film Festival’s Kent Jones, along with prominent artistic directors and programmers and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s programming director Dennis Lim (see full statement and list of signatories below).
The Beijing Independent Film Festival aims to showcase the work of independent Chinese filmmakers, working outside the government-sanctioned mainstream film industry. It was scheduled to hold its 11th edition this month, but was shut down by men claiming to be local villagers and the festival’s three co-organisers were detained by police.
The festival is usually held in the Beijing suburb of Songzhuang, home to the offices of the Li Xianting Film Fund. Several previous editions of the festival have been disrupted, but the event has never been closed down completely before, as organisers managed to move or postpone some screenings.
The statement in support of the Beijing Independent Film Festival and the Li Xianting Film Fund said: “As independent film festivals and supporters of independent cinema, we have learned with deep concern that the Chinese government and police authorities have prevented the 11th Beijing Independent Film Festival based in Songzhuang, Beijing, from opening last weekend, August 23rd, and detained its organizers Wang Hongwei, Fan Rong, and Li Xianting for several hours.
“We are also deeply concerned that BIFF’s sponsoring organization, the Li Xianting Film Fund, has been raided, and the entirety of its invaluable archives of independent Chinese cinema have reportedly been confiscated.
“We call upon the relevant Chinese authorities to permit the Beijing Independent Film Festival to pursue its mission to nurture and exhibit a full range of alternative cinematic voices in China, to allow the festival to operate without interference, and to allow the Li Xianting Film Fund to continue its vital mission of archiving and supporting independent Chinese filmmakers.”
- Berlinale Forum, Christoph Terhechte, Head
- Curtas Vila do Conde International Film Festival, Nuno Rodrigues, Miguel Dias, Mário Micaelo, co-directors
- dGenerate Films, Karin Chien, President
- DocLisboa, Cíntia Gil and Augusto M. Seabra, co-directors
- Festival International du Film de Belfort – EntreVues, Lili Hinstin, Artistic Director
- Film Society of Lincoln Center, Dennis Lim, Director of Programming
- Göteborg International Film Festival, Jonas Holmberg, Artistic Director,
- Marit Kapla, Head of Programme
- Hong Kong Independent Film Festival, Vincent Chui, Artistic Director
- Images Cinema, Doug Jones, Executive DIrector
- International Film Festival Rotterdam, Rutger Wolfson, Festival Director
- Lima Independiente Festival Internacional de Cine, Alonso Izaguirre, Director
- Melbourne International Film Festival, Michelle Carey, Artistic Director
- New York Film Festival, Kent Jones, Director
- Sydney Film Festival, Nashen Moodley, Festival Director
- Taiwan International Documentary Festival, Wood Lin, Program Director
- The Association of Documentary Filmakers of Chile, Amalric de Pontcharra
- Torino Film Festival, Emanuela Martini, Director
- Tromsø International Film Festival, Martha Otte, Festival Director
- Tokyo Filmex, Shozo Ichiyama, Program Director
- True/False Film Fest, Paul Sturtz and David Wilson, co-directors
- Visions du Réel, Luciano Barisone, Director