HK director criticises Spielberg

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 February, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong director Andrew Lau Wai-keung led a chorus of disapproval yesterday against the decision by Hollywood filmmaker Steven Spielberg to pull out of his role in the Beijing Olympics.

The celebrated maker of box-office hits Infernal Affairs, The Storm Riders and Initial D, was in the capital to promote his short film for Vision Beijing, a project to advance the Games on the small screen around the world.

But he also used the event to query Spielberg's boycott over China's links with the Sudanese government and the war in Darfur, and expressed dismay at the timing of the director's bombshell announcement 12 days ago.

Spielberg said he pulled out of his role as an artistic adviser because China was doing too little to halt the bloodshed in Darfur, where Khartoum-linked militia have battled rebel groups

Lau said: 'I am surprised that Steven stepped back from his work.

'Why did he decide now? Why not before? The Olympics is almost here, so why did he pull out at this moment? The problems in Africa started four or five years ago. So why now? This I can't understand.'

Lau, one of five international directors who have made films for the event, said politics had no place in the Olympics.

'It's very clear this is about sports. It is not politics. So I'm surprised by Steven doing this thing.'

Iranian director Majid Majidi was also critical of Spielberg. 'Art should not have anything to do with politics,' he said. 'Art may be undermined if it is connected with something completely unnecessary.'

British director Daryl Goodrich, famous for his film in support of London's bid for the 2012 Olympics, became uncomfortable when asked for his reaction.

'Respect for human rights is essential wherever you are in the world. I personally was asked to make a film about children and to celebrate the Olympic Games, and that's ... why I came to Beijing,' he said.