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CHINA PREVENTS FILMMAKER ARTO HALONEN’S TRIP TO THE BEIJING OLYMPICS

Press release: China will not grant the filmmaker Arto Halonen a visa in order to attend the Beijing Olympics. Halonen was invited to join the event as part of the Finnish Lottery and Finnish Olympic Committee delegation, and is therefore a special guest of the International Olympic Committee. The same delegation also includes the former Finnish Prime Minister and current president of Sitra, Esko Aho.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Embassy of China in Finland states that Halonen is not welcome in the People’s Republic of China, as he broke Chinese law on his previous visit. Between 1994 and 1998, Halonen directed the film Karmapa – Two Ways of Divinity in Tibet and China. The film deals with topics such as the religious and cultural oppression of Tibet by China, and China’s infiltration of Tibet’s Buddhist community with the aim of governing the country through puppet religious leaders. The film received many awards, including the European Union Humanitarian Award. The prize was given to Halonen in Austria by the EU commissioner Emma Bonino.

 

According to Halonen, during the film project China attempted to influence him to make propaganda fitting China’s needs, thereby turning his back on the truth. ”The reward for this would have been to become a filmmaker in their trust – a kind of a Leni Riefenstahl-esque position”.
Pursuing the truth (and including such controversial figures as the Dalai Lama in the film) angered China, who tried to prevent the screening of the film at Hong Kong International Film Festival. The background of the film and the production process, spanning years, were also addressed in another film, Karmapa – A Voyage on the Roof of the World. Both films were co-produced by the Finnish YLE TV2 channel’s Dokumenttiprojekti series and the producers Jarmo Jääskeläinen and Iikka Vehkalahti.

 

Halonen casts shame upon China’s decision and upon the accusations that he has broken the law: “If defending the rights of Tibetan and Chinese people and aiming to get to the truth means breaking the law, the Chinese government’s idea of justice is at the level of the Inquisition. The events surrounding the Olympics pose important questions to the international community: why do we allow China to politicise the Olympics and manipulate its citizens through the event? And why was a totalitarian state such as China allowed to gain power through Western know-how and business collaborations? Do we want to remain silent about China’s influence, and build a world where questioning the state’s propaganda-ridden viewpoint will bring about sanctions?”

 

 

Halonen’s latest documentary film, Shadow of the Holy Book, focusing on Turkmenistan’s dictatorship and the ethics of international companies, has become one of the most distributed Finnish documentary films worldwide. Like Publishing Ltd. will publish a book on the same subject, written by the American journalist Kevin Frazier alongside Halonen. China also features heavily in the book. The book deals with, for example, how China as a member of the UN Security Council supports totalitarian states like Turkmenistan, Sudan and Zimbabwe in order to prevent the implementation of sanctions upon these dictatorships. While China enriches and strengthens its partners, it also secures the future of its own totalitarian system, and its right to continue oppressing its own citizens and minorities.

 



More information:
Art Films production: 09-4159 3640, e-mail: info@artfilms.inet.fi
Press images:
Karmapa-film:  http://www.shadowoftheholybook.com/press/Karmapa/
Shadow of the Holy Book: http://www.shadowoftheholybook.com/press/Shadow_Of_The_Holy_Book/
Background information:
Karmapa-film: http://www.artfilmsproduction.com/karmapa-eng.html
Shadow of the Holy Book: http://www.shadowoftheholybook.com