Jet Tone Films and Fortissimo Films – the production company and sales agent behind Cheng Hsiao-tse’s Miao Miao, which is at the centre of a funding row – have issued a statement saying they will pursue “all available legal recourse” to defend their rights to keep Taiwan government funding for the film. 

The statement follows an order by Taiwan’s Government Information Office (GIO) that Jet Tone should return the $121,600 (NT$4m) production subsidy that Miao Miao was awarded, along with a ban on applying for funding for the next three years.

The GIO claimed that Jet Tone had violated the contract of the subsidy to represent Miao Miao as a Taiwanese production, when it used a Hong Kong address to register the film for the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF).

The government body also said it would take back a $152,000 (NT$5m) grant for Jet Tone’s new feature project – The End Of The Tunnel to be directed by Chang Rong-ji.

Jet Tone and Fortissimo stated that they find the GIO’s accusations “groundless and insulting”.

Miao Miao is the first production of Jet Tone Films Taiwan and the facts clearly demonstrate that Miao Miao is unarguably a Taiwanese production – from a Taiwanese production company, shot entirely in Taiwan that brought together a Taiwanese director, actors and crew,” the statement said.

“As a Taiwanese film entry, it made strong showings at various international film festivals including both the Berlin and Pusan International Film Festivals. In Berlin, it was presented by the Taiwan delegation and participated in the Taiwan GIO sponsored event there.”

The statement continues that these facts outweigh the “inadvertent clerical error” of using a Hong Kong rather than Taiwan address on the MIFF application. Jet Tone said that the total production cost of Miao Miao exceeded $910,213 (NT$30m). In addition to the $121,600 (NT$4m) production subsidy granted by GIO, Jet Tone brought into Taiwan further investment which exceeded $608,087 (NT$20m), more than 60% of the film’s budget.

Miao Miao was one of the Chinese-language films withdrawn from MIFF after the festival refused to withdraw Australian documentary, The Ten Conditions Of Love, about Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer. Miao Miao’s withdrawal prompted heated debates in Taiwan’s legislature on the origin of the film.

“We believe these actions by GIO are yielding to political pressures within Taiwan and are at the expense of the original spirit of the subsidy. Such actions if continued will surely jeopardise the future of Taiwanese cinema as well as the credibility of the GIO,” the two companies said.