After more than a month of stoney silence over the “yin-yang contracts” scandal and accusations of tax evasion against Fan Bingbing that rocked the Chinese film industry, one of the central figures in the story, seasoned director Feng Xiaogang, has finally responded.
The story began back at the start of June when TV host and self-styled truth talker Cui Yongyuan published photos of contacts on his Weibo account which he said showed a star signing two separate contracts with a film studio in order to circumvent taxes on millions of RMB in payments.
The authorities responded by saying that investigations were being launched and last week regulators railed against “unreasonable” pay packets, “money worship”, and the “distortion of social values” in the wake of the scandal.
Yet Cui continued to push for more answers, and in particular seemed to be taking aim at Feng, the director of a film which is widely thought to be based on Cui’s life and which doesn’t exactly portray the TV host in the best light.
Yesterday, Huayi Brothers — the studio that was embroiled in the initial controversy — issued a statement saying that the original film in question (Cellphone) had “nothing to do with Mr Cui Yongyuan”, that all of their operations were in accordance with the law, and that they were firmly against the spreading of false information.
Today, Feng followed up with a list of 10 questions for Cui Yongyuan.
In the post, Feng puts his absence from social media since the scandal broke down to “being focused on making a film, which is what I do”, not wanting to “contribute to social disorder” over this issue, and “those around me all said he was sick” and that there was therefore no point in getting dragged into a conversation with Cui.
However, with Cellphone 2 “now wrapped”, Feng has elected to wade into the issue — and by extension a social media firestorm. Within a few hours, the post had been commented on over 100,000 times before the function was seemingly disabled.
(As a side controversy, many users continue to accuse Weibo of fiddling the “hot searches” bar on their platform to exclude Cui Yongyuan’s hashtags. One captured the tone: “Master Cui posts loads of messages and doesn’t make it into the ‘hot searches’, but the minute Feng Xiaogang responds he goes straight into the list”.)
There’s a lot of vitriol and namecalling and accusations, some of it raking over old stories and rumors. We won’t go into all of Feng’s points, but here are some of the “highlights”, translated and edited by Echo Wu:
You said that the movie hurts you. Have you done the things that the protagonist in the movie has done? Did you have an affair like the protagonist does in the movie? How come it hurts you?
If you insist that Cellphone hurt you, why not use legal processes to protect your rights? You can sue the author and the filmmakers. Do you not believe in the law or not believe in yourself?
As a professor at the Communications University of China, you say that you love movies, and that in literary and artistic works of fiction people shouldn’t assume that these works are talking about them. Don’t you understand the logic here? Have you seen the movie The Godfather? It describes the story of an Italian gangster family. Which Italian gangster is assuming the movie is talking about them and starting trouble with Coppola? You threatened everybody. You use the public’s empathy to make biased views. Do you think the tax department and the public security department work for you only? Once one of these departments is not doing what you want, you just scream and howl in Weibo.
You used the contract of a group you were in to create panic in the stock market, causing stocks of many companies to fall. Many stockholders suffered huge losses. You didn’t stop. You are actually happy about it. You build your happiness on the suffering of many investors. Where is your humanity?
You threaten to stop Cellphone 2, you are really funny. I am telling you now, Cellphone 2 was successfully finished in the picturesque setting of Guilin. The movie will exist forever unless the earth is destroyed.
Oh, what’s that?Cellphone 2 you say? It really seemed like this whole thing had died down, but now the studio and the director of Cellphone 2 have stirred it all up again. Huayi Bros release a statement and then Feng does, just as they begin to think about plugging their new film. Huh.
Anyway, not going to lie, we’re intrigued as to what Cui Yongyuan’s response will be. In the meantime, it seems he’s still welcome and some Chinese film events. One of his most recent Weibo posts features photos of him with director Jiang Wen and the cast of Hidden Man, which comes out this Friday.
Update: Cui has responded with a post on his Weibo account inviting article submissions as part of a competition to see who can come up with the best response to Feng. So far he has reposted three such articles from WeChat accounts and websites which lay out why they think Feng is wrong on this matter.
Cover image: Feng Xiaogang on the set of Youth
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