Ying Liang, the director of Taking Father Home, Good Cats, and The Other Half and a leading figure in the world of independent Chinese cinema, has reportedly had police visit his family in Shanghai. Ying, who is in Hong Kong, has been threatened with arrest if he returns to China. The harassment began following a screening of his most recent narrative feature, When Night Falls at the Jeonju Film Festival in South Korea. Writing for The New Yorker, Richard Brody reports:
The film that got Ying in trouble is his latest, “When Night Falls,” which, according to [Malaysian filmmaker and blogger Edmund] Yeo, was shown in the Jeonju film festival, in South Korea. Yeo’s post has a wide range of details about the film and the case. The movie is based on the true story of a man who was “executed in 2008 for murdering six policemen with a knife in a Shanghai police station after being arrested and beaten for riding an unlicensed bicycle.”
Yeo quotes from Ying’s post on Facebook, which states that, after the film was shown in Jeonju, his family, in Shanghai, and his wife’s family, in Sichuan, were visited and intimidated by the Chinese police, who then tried “to buy the copyright of the film” in Korea for an extraordinarily high price. Ying adds that he returned to Hong Kong (where he is currently working) and learned that he would be arrested if he goes back to China.
Since the incidents, Ying has been active on facebook and twitter, commenting on the evolving situation and assuring concerned friends and fans alike that his family “are ok.” Ying has also released a series of statements on facebook, some of which have been made public to non-”friends”. In a most recent facebook post, dated May 9th, Ying clarifies some of the conditions surrounding the harassment:
“My parents and my wife’s parents were harassed by policemen at the early of this April. The last time, I got the info, the policemen from Police Department, National Security, and National Protection had visited my family in Shanghai at least seven times. Their main work were helping my parents to understand “my case”: such as the film exposed the eyesore of them, nobody could be allowed to touch the case about Yang Jia, and I wouold be arrested once I come back. The day before yesterday, my friend gave a call to my home; she said my mother’s voice and emotion sound ok, but telephone always discontinue, maybe phone was being eavesdropped.
When the Policemen from National Security visited me in HK, they didn’t use true identity, just said they from the Foreign Office of Shanghai Government. Because of my families’ troublesome, I thought I must see them. They told me my film didn’t meet the true, and violate somebody’s emotion. Then they request me to cancel all screening plan, or re-edit the film.” [sic]
As friends and supporters of Ying Liang, we at dGenerate Films extend our great concern to Ying and his family. Ying Liang is not only a remarkable director, but a leader, teacher, and role model in the Chinese independent film community—a true symbol of independent thought and artistic practice. Our thoughts are with Ying and his family. We will be following this situation as more information becomes available.