Cinema department head demoted for oversight on 'Abominable' nine-dash line

By Viet Tuan   October 28, 2019 | 04:39 pm PT
Cinema department head demoted for oversight on 'Abominable' nine-dash line
Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, then director of Cinema Department at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, speaks at a conference in 2019. Photo acquired by VnExpress.
Acting director of the Cinema Department, Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, has been demoted for letting China’s infamous nine-dash line appear in Vietnamese cinemas.

A decision to this effect was taken Monday by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. It came three weeks after alert viewers spotted the internationally rejected nine-dash line on the East Sea included in the Hollywood-produced animation movie "Abominable."

Ha was held responsible for granting the permit for screening the movie at local theaters without censoring the offensive map feature that violates Vietnamese sovereignty.

She had accepted responsibility for the oversight and worked with the distributor to stop the film’s screening.

"We will be more alert and cautious in future movie reviews," she had said.

Ha will now function as deputy director of the Cinema Department under the culture ministry.

CGV, Vietnam’s largest cinema chain that bought the movie rights, was also fined VND170 million ($7,300) for importing a movie with images violating the Vietnamese law.

"Abominable" was released in Vietnamese theaters on October 4. The movie follows a Chinese girl named Yi and two friends who end up meeting Yeti, the Abominable Snowman and help the creature reunite with his family on Mount Everest.

After the film was released, a scene with a map in Yi’s house showing the nine-dash line caught the attention of one viewer, Le Van Hiep, who shared it on social media.

The line claims 90 percent of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer East Sea, known internationally as South China Sea, and it has been met with strong opposition from the international community. It overlaps with claims by Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines, apart from violating Vietnam’s sovereignty.

The image appears several times in the film, which has also been banned in Malaysia and the Philippines.

Following the discovery, CGV said they were no longer selling tickets to show the film. Information about the movie, including its trailer, synopsis and show times was taken down by CGV and other distributors on their homepages and media channels.

The movie is produced by American animation studio DreamWorks Animation and Chinese company Pearl Studio.

The removal of the movie from Vietnamese cinemas follows a similar incident last year, when Chinese film "Operation Red Sea" was banned from being shown in Vietnam.

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