Black Tea

Taiwanese Filmmakers Issue Appeal Over Funding Changes

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A group of more than 100 Taiwanese filmmakers and producers has issued a statement expressing concerns over recent changes to Taiwan’s co-production funding scheme, along with calls for greater transparency and dialogue with local industry.

Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA) is understood to have suspended the existing Taiwan International Co-funding Program (TICP) while it launches a new version that appears geared towards a higher level of Taiwanese participation and more mainstream projects.

Earlier this week, TAICCA issued a press release stating three new rules for “TICP 2.0”:

  • Increased Investment Ratio: To encourage projects with significant Taiwanese elements, for projects with a higher concentration of Taiwanese elements, the investment ceiling has been raised from 30% to 49%.
  • Removal of Maximum Investment Amount: To facilitate the establishment of internationally significant investment projects in Taiwan, the original investment limit of $300,000 for a single project has been removed, enhancing the opportunity to obtain more financial support.
  • Diversification of Investment Projects: To increase the international visibility of Taiwanese works, aside from investing in small to medium-sized non-commercial films, the optimized TICP 2.0 will also invest in a more diverse range of commercially viable films, documentaries, and other types of audiovisual works.

However, the group of local filmmakers, including producers regularly involved in co-production, such as Justine O, Vincent Wang, Kuek Shee-Heng, Kuo Ming-Jung, Patrick Mao Huang and Stefano Centini, say the lack of transparency in the changes is discouraging international filmmakers from working with Taiwan.

“Some are afraid to proceed with new projects or have even confirmed that they will not cooperate with Taiwan, which has caused unease in the industry,” the statement said. “We are deeply concerned that Taiwan’s international image and reputation will suffer irreparable damage due to these developments.”

Among the filmmakers’ concerns is an apparent attempt to move co-production funding into the National Development Fund (NDF), Taiwan’s sovereign wealth fund, which according to the filmmakers’ statement “deals with investments in all aspects of the economic cycle, less prominently culture”. When producers asked TAICCA how to apply for TICP 2.0, they were only sent NDF application documents.

The filmmakers also expressed concern about the “inconsistency and lack of transparency” in TAICCA’s policy: “Throughout the entire process, there has been no formal announcement regarding the termination or suspension of TICP. The details of the so-called upgraded and expanded version have not been officially disclosed, and there has been no communication or discussion with the industry about the transitional measures for linking the old and new systems.”

Finally, the statement calls for TAICCA to “engage in an open dialogue” with the industry about the new funding scheme; a continuation of the existing scheme until the new version is operational; and an assurance that future policy changes are “transparent and openly communicated with the industry to ensure that adequate support measures are in place”.

Among the filmmakers who signed the statement are actors such as Lee Kang-Sheng, directors including Shen Ko-Shang, and craftspeople including award-winning composer and sound designer Tu Duu-chih.

TICP has co-funded arthouse films including The Last Queen, co-directed by Algeria’s Damien Ounouri and Adila Bendimerad, which premiered in Venice, and Cannes titles Tiger Stripes, directed by Malaysia’s Amanda Nell Eu, which won the Critics Week Grand Prize, and The Settlers, from Chile’s Felipe Gálvez Haberle, which premiered in Un Certain Regard and won the FIPRESCI prize.

The fund has also supported two films selected for the competition section of the upcoming Berlin film festival – Abderrahmane Sissako’s Black Tea (pictured above), which is set in China but partly filmed in Taiwan, and Nepali filmmaker Min Bahadur Bham’s Shambhala, which was supported for post-production.