Montreal film festival bullish on Chinese pix

MONTREAL — Chinese pic “The Opium War” (Yapian Zhanzheng) will be screening as part of the official competition at the upcoming Montreal World Film Festival, and this year’s edition, set to run Aug. 22 to Sept. 2, will feature several pics from China in different sections.

Veteran helmer Xie Jin’s “The Opium War,” which is one of the most expensive films in Chinese history, is a dramatization built around the war between the Chinese and the British that ended with the Brits’ takeover of Hong Kong.

Xie Jin’s’ previous pics include “Two Stage Sisters” and “Hibiscus Town.” “The Opium War” has already opened commercially in Hong Kong and is set to make its bow on the mainland in mid-July. Reviewing the pic at the Cannes market this year, Variety critic Derek Elley said it “is a consistently eye-pleasing historical costumer that’s a superior example of its type without moving any mountains.”

“Over the past 20 years, the Montreal festival has served as a forerunner to Chinese filmmakers in the Western world,” said Montreal festival prexy Serge Losique. “Once again, the World Film Festival will showcase the best of Chinese cinematography by presenting several new pictures.”

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