China allegedly bans Jia from attending awards


TAIPEI–The Chinese government is allegedly the reason behind director Jia Zhangke’s decision not to attend the 50th Golden Horse Awards ceremony on Saturday, according to local media reports.

Jia and his actress wife were originally scheduled to attend the ceremony in Taipei, as well as a lecture session on Nov. 20 to meet with audience after a screening of his Golden Horse-nominated crime drama “A Touch of Sin,” but have suddenly decided not to come.

“Because of personal reasons, I cannot attend the Golden Horse lecture originally scheduled in Taipei tomorrow. I would like to express my apologies to the audience,” Jia wrote on his Sina Weibo micro-blogging page on Nov. 19, without elaborating.

Joint Entertainment International Inc., the Taiwan distributor of “A Touch of Sin,” confirmed Saturday that the director will not appear at the ceremony, citing only “personal schedule changes.”

The company told CNA, however, that the film’s nominees for Best Cinematography, Best Original Film Score and Best Film Editing will attend the ceremony.

Since Jia canceled his scheduled lecture session in Taipei, local media have speculated that he did so out of pressure from the Chinese government due to the sensitive issue of social injustice and inequality addressed in “A Touch of Sin.”

The film, which garnered six nominations for the Golden Horse Awards, including Best Feature Film and Best Director, centers on four working-class characters in different parts of China who are driven to violent ends in the face of injustice and exploitation.

It was seen by critics as a front-runner in both categories.

“A Touch of Sin” is based on real-life news stories that have gained public attention and explores the issues of violence and corruption in contemporary China.

Oscar-winning Taiwanese director Ang Lee, who chairs the jury at this year’s Golden Horse Awards, has touted the film as “strong and powerful.”

“I believe this film will bring my heart to Taipei, to be with everyone,” Jia said through a video conference to audience attending a special screening of his film in Taipei on Nov. 21, many of them elites in the arts and cultural sector.

“I can do all kinds of compromises in my life and that is because I hope I don’t compromise in my films,” Jia said. “I hope to keep my courage in my films. Please trust my courage.”

Local media and other Chinese-language media have speculated that the film has been banned in China.

Jia started his career as an independent filmmaker, often chronicling the lives of China’s poor and displaced and delving into grim social realities brought about by rapid economic development and globalization.

The film won Jia the best screenplay award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

It is the first time that Jia’s film has been nominated for the Golden Horse Awards.