An unnamed Chinese hacker attempted to crash the Melbourne International Film Festival’s website, angered over the screening of the film The 10 Conditions of Love, which recounts the story of exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer.
BBC reports that “hackers replaced programme information with the Chinese flag and anti-Kadeer slogans and sent spam emails in an attempt to crash the site.”
The hacker has since contacted the Australian press claiming that “he does not work for the Chinese Government and is just an ordinary, angry Chinese citizen who objects to the film,” which was first shown on Sunday.
While police are investigating the attack, it has been revealed that it is not an isolated incident. Rather, festival director Richard Moore claims that for over a week prior to the hacking of the site, the Festival had been bombarded by a ‘mini tsunami’ of close to 100 angry emails.
Why all the fuss?
The Guardian and BBC report that the emails and hacking attempts began after Chunmei Chen, a cultural attaché from the Chinese consular office in Melbourne, contacted Moore to express her government’s displeasure with the film.
“Ms Chen urged me to withdraw the film from the festival and told me I had to justify my actions in programming it. I told her that under no circumstances would I withdraw the film, that I had no reason to do so. I don’t need to justify my actions, unless it’s in relation to our own sense of morals,” Moore told the Guardian.
Australian police have assured that there will be extra security present during Kadeer’s visit and the film screening in August, and in the meantime the festival will not bow to the pressure. In fact, Moore is contemplating adding more dates to the bill — not a bad idea since the Q&A screening on August 8th had already sold out.
The 10 Conditions of Love follows Kadeer on her campaign for her people’s freedom, while centering on her relationship with her activist husband Sidik Rouzi. The film is directed by Australian filmmaker Jeff Daniels, and funded by Common Room Productions, a company which focuses on human interest and social issue documentaries.
Daniels said of the ordeal: “I personally find it appalling that the Chinese Government has put the film festival and film-goers in a position where they need a police escort and private security to see a film.” He also wrote a compelling commentary last week explaining how he came to make the film, and meet Kadeer.