111 film industry insiders sign letter calling two famous filmmakers ‘plagiarists’
Published: Dec 22, 2020 08:10 PM

Film director Guo Jingming (right) and actor Mark Zhao (left). Photo: IC

Famous but controversial TV producer-screenwriter Yu Zheng and film director Guo Jingming were highlighted in a joint letter signed by 111 Chinese film and TV industry insiders who pledged to boycott the two for plagiarizing other authors' works.  

Posted by Chinese screenwriters such as Song Fangjin and Yu Fei on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Monday night, the letter says that creators who plagiarize the work of others should not be role models for young creators who aspire to work in the TV and film industry. 

The letter, which specified Yu and Guo "representatives of plagiarism," also accused the two of undertaking supervisor roles on TV entertainment shows to deliberately create drama and topics to grab people's attention and consequently create hype for their own productions. 

Several other anger-filled questions were asked in the letter, especially concerning why figures such as Yu and Guo can be praised as mentors on online and TV media platforms to sell their "philosophy of success" despite refusing to fulfill court sentences that required they apologize for plagiarizing other people's works.  

The fact that the two were the target of this letter does not come as a surprise to many in China's entertainment industry due to their connections to notorious plagiarism stories. In 2003, Guo was accused by female writer Zhuang Yu of copying her original novel In and Out of the Circle in his full-length novel Never Flowers in Never Dreams. Zhuang said there were at least seven places in Guo's novel that were similar to hers and that Guo's depiction of his characters were also similar to hers. 

Though Never Flowers in Never Dreams helped Guo shoot to fame overnight and earned him a place on Forbes' 2004 Chinese Celebrity List, it was eventually removed from bookstores on the order of the Intermediate Court in Beijing after Zhuang's accusation. The dispute left Guo labeled as a plagiarist and despite the court ordering him to apologize to Zhuang, he has yet to do so. 

Similar to Guo, Yu was accused by well-known Chinese romance novelist and screenwriter Qiong Yao in 2014. Qiong claimed that Yu's TV drama Palace 3: The Lost Daughter copied her 1993 novel Plum Blossom Mark. Though Yu compensated Qiong after a court found him to have violated Plum Blossom Mark's copyright, he has also refused to apologize to Qiong. 

The letter's participants include respected figures such as A Mei, the screenwriter of award-winning director Wang Xiaoshuai's recent work So Long, My Son, and Dong Runnian, the screenwriter of The Eight Hundred director Guan Hu's 2015 film Mr. Six

"Gu Kai is the 112th," posted Chinese screenwriter Gu Kai on Sina Weibo expressing his support for the 111 screenwriters. 

Netizens joined in on the discussion as soon as the letter went viral. 

"How dare the screenwriter of Eternal Love of Dream sign this letter? It was a copied work too," posted one netizen.