Film Stars Protest Organized Crime Interference
HONG KONG (AP) _ Jackie Chan, one of Hong Kong’s leading kung fu actors, and dozens of other film stars and directors stepped off the screen and onto the streets Wednesday to protest underworld interference in their industry.
Police said more than 300 actors, directors, cameramen, screenwriters and production staff participated in the one-hour morning protest that wound through the upscale central business district.
About two dozen police officers tried to keep hundreds of elbowing reporters, photographers and autograph seekers at bay. Hundreds of spectators took extended coffee breaks to perch out of windows for a glimpse of the stars.
Protest organizers hoisted a yellow banner proclaiming ″Show Business Against Violence.″ Actors in leather coats, jeans and sneakers wore yellow armbands and locked arms in a sign of solidarity.
″Many of my friends in the business have been threatened by telephone and held at gunpoint,″ said Chan. ″Their cars get broken into, they get followed by strange people in the streets. They feel very frightened.″
Film industry representatives say Hong Kong’s notorious triads often force production teams to pay thousands of dollars in protection money for the use of locations.
Triads also blackmail popular actors into participating in triad-backed movies at reduced fees. Many have branches in American cities with large Chinese populations involved in racketeering, drug smuggling and gambling.
″I have been threatened to make movies I didn’t want to make. These bad people will do anything to get money,″ said Amy Yip, Hong Kong’s buxom soft- porn queen, who was decked out in a purple sequined coat.
Philip Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Directors’ Guild Association and a former police superintendent, said the protest was prompted by a triad’s seizure last week of two film reels of an unfinished movie.
″When we’re dealing with corruption, you’re not going to get cooperation from the victim for fear of retaliation,″ Chan said. ″But we felt we had to make a statement to indicate the extent of extortion in the industry.″
Other leading stars like Maggie Cheung, Joey Wang, Chou Sing-chi and Wong War-wai voiced similar concerns.
The demonstration ended at the Royal Hong Kong Police headquarters, where protest organizers delivered a petition requesting more police protection.