Award winning Taiwanese actress Shu Qi, who stars in Hou Hsiao-hsien's "The Assassin", has become unwittingly embroiled in a heated exchange online over an alleged error in the film's description at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Shu's agent yesterday threatened to sue the local Liberty Times for falsely reporting on the incident.
The martial arts-themed film, a finalist for the famed Palme d'Or that premiered Friday, became a lightning rod for netizens in China after it was reported that the organising committee falsely labelled Shu's country of origin as "China."
According to a report from the Liberty Times, Shu protested the error at a red carpet event in Cannes, proclaiming: "I'm from Taiwan." Netizens from China blasted the alleged comments, accusing the actress of harbouring support for Taiwanese independence, while internet users from Taiwan lauded her for her apparent patriotism.
Shu's agent accused the newspaper of falsely reporting the actress' statement, saying that the incident as reported did not transpire. In a press release, the actress' representative demanded the paper clarify its position and apologise or be faced with legal action.
In response, the paper said in a statement that it had cited the United Daily News as its source in the earliest report and it had corrected the the story after fact-checking. The newspaper also highlighted the fact that Shu's agent singled it out for criticism.
No defences necessary for statements I didn't make: Shu
Meanwhile, after officials in charge of "The Assassin" reported the biographical error in the Cannes programme, organizers corrected the error, listing "Taiwan" as Shu's country of origin. The official Cannes website now lists the film's countries of production as: "Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, France."
Hou, the film's famed director, expressed his frustration, indicating that Taiwanese media were not present during the event and were not clear about the situation. "What's the point of harming someone while benefiting nobody?" Hou asked.
Questioned about the incident later by the media, Shu replied: "I don't have to defend or explain over statements that I did not make."
"The Assassin" has been selected to be screened in the main competition section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.