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Filmmakers, public blast Taiwan media for hounding on Luc Besson film

2013/10/28 15:30:26

In front of the Regent Hotel in Taipei, Oct. 21.

Taipei, Oct. 28 (CNA) Taiwanese filmmakers and members of the public have expressed disappointment with local media after news that French director Luc Besson may cut short filming in Taipei for his new movie "Lucy" due to repeated disturbances by media workers.

"The media and public should show their love for Taiwan... If Luc Besson is scared away, would other foreign directors be willing to shoot films in Taiwan?" veteran director Chu Yen-Ping was quoted in the China Times Monday.

In a United Daily News report the same day, producer Lee Lieh said that films, especially Hollywood films, are the best way to advertise Taiwan, urging the media to recognize that "Taiwan needs this kind of publicity."

Academic and former senior reporter Liu Huei-ling explained the aggressive approach of media workers as a symptom of a highly competitive industry that has caused reporters to lose sight of what is and is not appropriate.

Meanwhile, thousands of furious Taiwanese haven taken to the Internet to condemn the behavior of reporters and photographers, which they labeled paparazzi, for hounding Besson and his cast and crew.

"Paparazzi, please stop shaming the Taiwanese," read a comment by a Web user calling himself Weizai on a report that Besson plans to cut shooting, including planned shots at landmarks like Longshan Temple, due to harassment.

On another report, a user calling himself Max wrote that the media "do not represent Taiwan, but if you and I chose to remain silent and let them get away with it without saying anything, we are choosing to hurt Taiwan." The comment received hundreds of "likes" from other users.

Besson's crew reported to police Friday a near-collision when their cars were almost hit by pursuing media workers, according to the Taipei City Government. In a separate incident, photographers reportedly surrounded and banged on the windows of a car carrying Scarlett Johansson, the film's female lead, when it stopped at a red light.

On Monday, the National Communications Commission (NCC), Taiwan's top media regulator, responded to the incident by calling on management and discipline committees to abide by standards of journalistic professionalism.

"We don't want to interfere in press freedom, but it cannot be overly unrestrained," Yu Hsiao-cheng, spokesman of the NCC, told CNA.

This incident is not the first conflict between a visiting celebrity and Taiwan's freewheeling press. In 2004, British singer-songwriter Elton John called Taiwanese cameramen "rude, vile pigs" when they ambushed him after he arrived by private plane for a Taiwan concert.

Widespread anger at the media follows earlier public enthusiasm at a big-ticket movie shooting in Taiwan. "Lucy" is the first big Hollywood film to be shot in the country since Ang Lee's "Life of Pi," which hit theaters in 2012.

(By Christie Chen)
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