Shanghai fest still a go amid SARS woes

More than 300 films already submitted for event

SHANGHAI — Shanghai Intl. Film Festival (SIFF) officials said Monday that there were no plans to cancel or delay the fest, due to be held June 7-15, as a result of the continuing panic about Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

China’s health minister and Beijing’s mayor were fired Monday, and the government announced that traditional May Day holidays have been canceled to discourage travel.

Shanghai — which has only two confirmed cases of SARS so far — is currently hosting one of the world’s biggest automobile fairs, with delegates attending from all over the world. Organizers at Auto 2003 estimate that 400,000 will pass through their doors over the next week.

“Shanghai is benefiting from the fact that it has been honest from the start about the number of cases here,” says Chen Xiaomeng, SIFF’s executive secretary general. “We are planning to continue with plans for our festival.”

300+ pics

According to Chen, more than 300 films have already been submitted for the seventh incarnation of the annual event, the biggest of its kind on the mainland. He estimates that 90% of those are from overseas filmmakers.

“We are not thinking about changing the date at this point. That would be a huge issue,” said Chen. “As for canceling, if the disease continues to spread, then at some point that decision would be taken out of our hands. We are not contemplating it for the moment.”

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