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Web buzz after Chinese film’s Berlin win

A top European prize for the Chinese movie Black Coal, Thin Ice has provoked curiosity and questioning with the film not yet released at home and some asking whether political sensitivity might block it.


The film about a washed up ex-cop investigating a series of grisly murders won the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear award for director Diao Yinan on Saturday while star Liao Fan also took the best actor award.

The film is virtually unknown to Chinese viewers but by Monday morning Black Coal, Thin Ice had shot to the top of the most-searched film-related topics on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

“Why is it that the films that win awards are always ones that I’ve never seen publicised?” wrote one Weibo user, in a typical comment.

Some online cinema buffs compared the film’s uncertain release to the controversy surrounding the work of another award-winning Chinese director, Jia Zhangke.

Jia’s Touch of Sin, which comments on violence and social inequity in China, won Best Screenplay at last year’s Cannes Festival but has yet to be shown on Chinese screens despite a promised November 2013 release.

A state media report at the weekend said Black Coal, Thin Ice had already received a government permit for screening with release possible in April or May this year.

Chinese state television announced the wins in its main news broadcast but made no further comment.

Jia wrote a Weibo post on Sunday congratulating Diao and was immediately flooded with responses from fans wondering whether his Touch of Sin will eventually be released in China.

Jesse White fitting in with the Magpies

High-profile recruit Jesse White is aiming to win a spot in Collingwood’s strong forward line in 2013 but the former Sydney forward is refusing to take a position in the senior team as a certainty.


White read the writing on the wall after the Swans swooped on Lance Franklin days afte rHawthorn’s grand final triumph, a year after snaring fellow key forward Kurt Tippett from Adelaide.

The 26-year-old made an impressive five-goal debut for the Magpies in last week’s narrow NAB Challenge loss to Geelong, raising the prospect of slotting into a towering attack alongside Travis Cloke and Quinten Lynch – with swingman Ben Reid another option.

White thinks there is room for three talls in the Collingwood forward set-up, but admits it might come down to opposition match-ups.

“It will come down to who we play in that week, I definitely think we can,” said White.

“(Lynch) played a little bit more in the ruck than I did and I think I had a bit of versatility where I can ruck or go forward, maybe even play as a half-forward.”

Speaking at Collingwood’s community camp at Kinglake on Monday, White said he was looking forward to playing in partnership with Cloke, who topped Collingwood’s goalkicking last year with 68 goals.

White played 71 games and kicked 73 goals in his six seasons with the Swans.

That stint included a career-best campaign in 2013 which netted 20 goals from 15 matches, including the last 11 in succession.

“Over the last two years I have worked pretty hard on improving myself, just getting to play that game-time last year really helped because the reserve competition in Sydney was really tough, the standard wasn’t that great, so it was a big step up playing AFL,” he said.

“It was good to get some consistent games into me, and having a good pre-season helped.”

Ex-PUP member threatens further challenge

A disgruntled former Palmer United Party (PUP) member says he will take his complaint to Tasmania’s Integrity Commission after his legal challenge failed.


Former candidate Marti Zucco claims the PUP was registered in the state without the 100 financial members required.

A Supreme Court appeal against the Tasmanian Electoral Commission’s (TEC) decision allowing the registration, was dismissed on Monday.

The action had threatened the party’s capacity to register in time for the March 15 state election.

The PUP, which is now free to contest the poll, denies it did anything wrong.

“The members that we submitted with our application are all members of the party,” state director James McDonald said outside the Hobart court.

“They signed statutory declarations.”

Mr Zucco quit the party over the issue and after receiving phone messages he says were abusive from PUP senator-elect Jacqui Lambie.

The local alderman and former pizza restaurateur, who is now running as an independent, denied his motivation was personal.

“This is, as far as I’m concerned, (about) process,” he said.

Representing himself, Mr Zucco had wanted to withdraw his appeal before Chief Justice Alan Blow. But the TEC argued they would prefer the legal action to be dismissed, since this would clear the way for the party to register in time for the coming state election. Justice Blow agreed.

“We could actually win the argument but … the court has the right to determine it by discretion – ridiculous,” Mr Zucco said.

PUP founder Clive Palmer in turn branded Mr Zucco’s action “ridiculous.”

Integrity Commission CEO Diane Merryfull cast doubt on the success of Mr Zucco’s planned next move, when she commented that the Integrity Commission could only deal with alleged misconduct by “a public officer”.

In a further twist, the Integrity Commission’s inaugural CEO, Barbara Etter, is now the PUP’s deputy state leader and was present in court.

The PUP needs to be registered by 6pm (AEDT) on Wednesday to make the cut-off for the state election.

The party won a Tasmanian Senate spot in last year’s federal election and has around five per cent support in opinion polls ahead of the state poll.

The party’s lawyers are seeking court costs and this will be decided after the election.

Eagle Simpson bracing for messy start

New West Coast coach Adam Simpson admits his first game as a head coach could get a tad messy, and says up to eight spots will be up for grabs during the AFL pre-season.


Simpson will get his first real taste of life as a senior coach during Tuesday’s pre-season clash with Fremantle at Arena Joondalup.

Both sides have selected strong squads for the match, with only Nic Naitanui (groin), Beau Waters (shoulder) and Andrew Gaff (tooth) missing from West Coast’s best outfit.

Simpson, who took over as Eagles coach from John Worsfold at the end of last year, said the club’s three pre-season games would be vital in helping the squad get used to a new style of play.

“I’d like 10 games before round one to be honest. It could get messy on the weekend,” Simpson said on Monday.

“Our coaching group haven’t coached a game together. We’ve got a new style of play.

“There is so much change and the biggest message for our players at the moment is just embrace the change.

“No doubt they’ll revert to habits that somewhat don’t suit what we’re doing now.

“But we’ve made the instructions pretty simple.

“Hopefully we’ve got them to a level where they’re pretty clear in what they need to do.”

Simpson, who was an assistant coach at Hawthorn during last year’s premiership, said he was feeling a bit anxious heading into his first game as a senior coach.

The former Kangaroo, who played 306 games during a decorated AFL career, said the pre-season games would shape as a crucial selection battle for a host of players.

“In my mind there’s a good seven or eight positions available, and there’s probably 10 or 12 players putting their hands up for them,” Simpson said.

“They’re playing for spots. So that’s what we’ll find out in the next few weeks.

“I’ve been through the experience of having a new coach and you feel like you have to prove yourself again.

“So I’ve got no doubt all the players are going through that phase.”

Fremantle will unleash new recruits Scott Gumbleton and Colin Sylvia, while West Coast’s side will feature former Hawk Xavier Ellis, ex-Brisbane defender Elliot Yeo and prized draft pick Dom Sheed.

Dockers Ryan Crowley, Zac Clarke, Chris Mayne, Nick Suban and Cam Sutcliffe are still working their way back to full fitness following pre-season hiccups.

Fremantle made a late change to their squad on Monday, replacing midfielder Clancee Pearce with new recruit Brady Grey, who was taken with pick No.58 in last year’s national draft.

AFL’s COLA review to assess GWS separately

The AFL could review Greater Western Sydney’s cost of living allowance (COLA) separately after the Giants broke ranks with cross-town rivals Sydney over the controversial issue.


AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick confirmed the issue was being discussed at the Commission meeting in the harbour city on Monday, but said he did not expect a decision for another couple of months.

“I wouldn’t say it was a key part of the meeting, but we are looking at competitive balance,” Fitzpatrick told reporters.

A number of clubs have labelled as unfair the 9.8 per cent allowance granted to the Swans and Giants above the league-wide salary cap to help cover the high cost of living in Sydney.

Criticism turned to anger at the end of last season when the Swans found room in their cap to recruit star forward Lance Franklin, a year after also signing Kurt Tippett on a big-money deal.

Giants chairman Tony Shepherd suggested on Monday that it was time for the Swans to no longer receive AFL help.

The Swans, meanwhile, have hired a global management consultant firm to help mount their case to retain the extra player payments.

Fitzpatrick said the COLA review was “not specifically” connected to Franklin’s acquisition, adding that it had been on the table for some time.

“I think the Franklin deal … was almost exogenous. It turned up out of the blue,” he said.

Asked whether the Giants and the Swans would be assessed separately, Fitzpatrick said: “I think if your question is, are Greater Western Sydney are at a different stage of development to Sydney? I think the answer’s yes.”

GWS have previously asked the AFL that, if COLA was abolished, the Commission consider granting an “expansion allowance” at the same level to help them attract and retain players during their formation years.

Fitzpatrick conceded the Homebush-based club was “slightly behind” where the AFL would like to see them in terms of their on-field success, but was confident the addition of five senior players – including former Collingwood star Heath Shaw and ex-Swan Shane Mumford – would make a difference this season.

“On most indicators, they’re good and we believe GWS can become one of the big clubs in the AFL,” he said.