Low-key vibe to Shanghai festival

Event kicks off 10th anniversary

SHANGHAI — Despite Sharon Stone’s presence, the opening frames of the Shanghai Film Festival were unashamedly local and curiously low key given the event’s 10th anni.

Day one of the fest kicked off with a handful of international names meeting the local press. Stone received a framed picture portraying classical Chinese opera “Farewell My Concubine” from the city’s party secretary and secretary general of the festival, Ren Zhonglun.

Thesps Reggie Lee and Michelle Rodriguez put in appearances and were treated to questions about the difference between sexiness in the West and in China.

Outside the city’s Grand Theater, scene of the opening ceremony, police closed off roads for several blocks and marshaled the excitable human traffic. Crowds were treated to a succession of local celebrities — though not the biggest names in the biz.

Stars turned out, from China mostly, plus a good number of Hong Kongers. Giving the crowd what they came for were Zhou Xun, Feng Xiaogang, Jia Jiangke, Tian Zhuangzhuang, Simon Yam, Maggie Cheung, Johnnie To, Eric Tsang, Daniel Wu, Shu Qi, Chapman To, Korean star Lee Jun-gi and Japanese veteran Yoji Yamada. Execs in attendance included Tsui Siuming and Tsuguhiko Kadokawa.

But the A-listers from the mainland and Hong Kong were absent. Even Jay Chou, the Taiwanese singing sensation turned actor-director, who had attended a junket earlier in the day, was not there. The crowds were entertained by a Mongolian band (corny), some lounge-style formation dancing (almost sexy) and a solo tenor singing Puccini (powerful, but incongruous). In between were a couple of lifetime achievement awards, Chen Kaige’s presentation of the jury, a run-through of clips and, astonishingly, no speeches from politicos or industry apparatchiks. For that omission auds thanked the discipline of live TV.

Rather than go with a mainland movie, opening-night film was Hong Kong-made crimer “Eye in the Sky,” which preemed in Berlin and previously opened the Hong Kong fest in March.

Day two of the festival began with the opening of the new Film Mart. Clearly intended to boost Shanghai’s international film business acumen, the small collection of mostly local stalls were bustling but distinctly lacking in foreign buyers.

Around 30 Chinese companies, mostly studios and production facilities, peddled their wares (a mix of films and TV series) over two floors of the fest-affiliated Crowne Plaza Hotel. Hidden away on a higher floor, a handful of overseas exhibitors were doing very little business but hoping things would pick up before the mart ends Tuesday.

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