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Taichung councilors clarify comments regarding new Ang Lee film

2012/04/30 19:53:53

Taipei, April 30 (CNA) Two Taichung City councilors clarified Monday controversial comments they made the previous week that city funds injected into Ang Lee's new film "Life of Pi" have not helped to promote the central Taiwan city.

During a question-and-answer session at the council, Hsieh Chih-chung and Tsai Ya-ling, both of whom belong to the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, said their April 27 comments were misunderstood.

The two councilors criticized the city government after the first publicity still for the film was released, saying that the image does not show any connection to Taichung, which gave the movie's production team NT$50 million (US$1.71 million) in a bid to promote the city, where a large part of the film was shot.

Hsieh said that the image, which shows only a man and a tiger in a boat but nothing relating to Taichung, is not the way to promote the city.

Hsieh and Tsai said their comments were not intended to target Lee and that they fully support the film project. They stressed that they raised their questions only to make sure taxpayers' money is well spent.

Hsieh said he was not insisting that images of Taichung should be included in the film, but expressed his belief that this would be a more effective way of attracting visitors to the city.

He said, however, that he would listen to criticism of his stance. On Hsieh's own blog, over 50 users had posted criticism of his questions regarding the film as of 4 p.m. that day.

A photoshopped spoof of the publicity still had also begun circulating online, in which a suncake -- a pastry that is a Taichung specialty -- has been added in the tiger's mouth to ridicule the councilors' comments.

Shih Chin-wen, director of the city's Information Bureau, said Monday that the misunderstanding was likely caused by people unfamiliar with the virtual studio used for the film. Shih had previously responded to the councilors' comments by pointing out the economic benefits brought to the city during the nearly one-year shooting period.

Meanwhile, Taichung Mayor Jason Hu noted that no-one will come to make films in Taichung if a condition is imposed that images related to the city are included in each production.

(By Hao Hsueh-chin and Kay Liu)