Pulled film angers industry

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Pulled film angers industry

Representatives of 12 Korean film industry organizations held a press conference yesterday protesting multiplex chain Megabox’s decision over the weekend to pull the controversial documentary “Project Cheonan Ship” from all 22 theaters that were screening the film.

Taking part in the statement were the heads of most major movie groups in Korea, including the Korea Association of Film Art and Industry, the Directors Guild of Korea, the Korean Film Producers Association, the Cinematographers Guild of Korea, the Association of Korean Independent Film and Video, the Federation of Korean Movie Workers’ Union, Women in Film Korea, the Korean Association of Film Critics and the Coalition for Cultural Diversity in Moving Images.

The coalition also condemned the unidentified conservative group that allegedly threatened Megabox, causing the screenings to be canceled.

Jeong Sang-min of Aura Pictures, the production company and distributor of the film, called the group’s threats an “obstruction to freedom of expression.”

Jeong added that Megabox had sent him mixed messages.

“The film began screening Friday, and on Saturday afternoon Megabox said it might screen the film at more locations,” said Jeong. “Then, a few hours later, they notified us that they would not be screening the film anymore due to a threat from an unidentified protest group.”

Megabox reportedly cited “audience safety” as the reason for pulling the movie, but the film industry was upset the chain would cave in to threats rather than alert the police.

Outraged over the incident, the film industry representatives demanded answers and support from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

“Project Cheonan Ship” looks at the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in the Yellow Sea in 2010, which killed 46 people. The government blamed a North Korea torpedo attack for the sinking, but some have expressed doubts about that claim.

An attempt by some naval officers and bereaved families to ban the film was dismissed by the courts last Wednesday.

BY CARLA SUNWOO [carlasunwoo@joongang.co.kr]
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