Controversial Uighur film a festival sell-out
Paul Millar
July 27, 2009

PUBLICITY surrounding the screening of a documentary about exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer ensured it was a sell-out last night, despite organisers fighting a "cyber-war" from China to withdraw it from the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Festival director Richard Moore said the festival's website received about 80,000 hits yesterday, 10 times more than usual, and the majority were from China.

"There were bulletin boards going up telling them to get into our website … they are specifically telling them to target us. It seriously is cyber war," he said.

Hackers attacked the website on Saturday, replacing festival information with the Chinese flag and anti-Kadeer slogans.

Mr Moore said he was unsure where it would end.

"We have had five Chinese films pull out now, one today — a Hong Kong-Taiwanese production called Miaou, Miaou."

Mr Moore said the campaign had intensified since it became known that the festival had refused to buckle to Chinese Government demands that the documentary, The 10 Conditions of Love, be withdrawn.

"First we had the phone call (demanding the film be withdrawn), then we had the Chinese films mysteriously withdrawing, then we had the hackers," he said.

Mr Moore said strict security would be in place when Ms Kadeer attended what was originally to have been the film's premiere in Melbourne on August 8.

Filmmaker Jeff Daniels last night thanked Mr Moore for standing up to the pressure being applied by Beijing. "If it had not been for the Chinese Government this theatre would not have been full tonight," Mr Daniels said.