Organizers increase international element

BEIJING — As Shanghai’s film fest enters its 11th year, its focus is likely to be on nurturing further growth in the booming domestic biz, while keeping one eye on foreign markets as a place to source investment and to sell Chinese films.

This is mainland China’s biggest film fest, and the local film industry is young and hungry. The Shanghai Intl. Film Festival is a great opportunity for young helmers and producers to find out about biz basics, such as how to get access to capital, both domestic and foreign, or have questions about legal issues answered.

The fest has been criticized in the past for not doing enough to justify the “international” element in its title, something organizers say they have been working to address in recent years.

The traditional gala opening night at the Shanghai Grand Theater is a big deal for celebrity-watchers in China, and an occasional foreign star has strolled down the red carpet.

Following last year’s success, this year’s SIFF will continue to focus on and promote the investment of China film projects, a organizer says: “The festival aims to provide a stage for young directors in China to show their talent, to look for partners around the world and to have an opportunity to embark on the world film stage.”

It’s also a way for domestic and foreign capital to contact and find the most promising Chinese directors and Chinese films with the most potential, says a SIFF spokesperson.

For the third year, SIFF will feature China Film Pitch and Catch (CFPC), which aims to provide some valuable face time for Chinese filmmakers and global producers and distributors.

CFPC is jointly organized by SIFF and China Film’s co-production unit. It integrates potential film capital from both home and abroad and seeks out suitable investors for rising Chinese filmmaking talent. The program is beginning to bear fruit, organizers say, producing projects such as “The Robbers” by tyro Yang Shupeng; $1.4 million was jointly invested in the pic by Stellar Megamedia and Shanghai Film Group.

This year, 153 films are registered to participate in CFPC and in other project programs under SIFF.

The fest has a strong educational element, featuring lectures as well as screenings of international movies. Lineup includes 17 films that will compete for the Jin Jue, or “Golden Goblet,” while 10 films will compete for the Asia New Talent kudos. The festival also will formally establish its Intl. Students Short Film Competition.

Major industry figures due to attend the festival include Wang Zhonglei from Huayi Brothers, international entertainment lawyer Bob Darwell and China Film supremo Han Sanping. Helmer John Woo is also down to make an appearance.

Sharon Stone, who attended last year, is unlikely to be invited back after saying the Sichuan earthquake may be linked to bad karma. The relief efforts following the earthquake are sure to dominate the fest.

Organizers have still to announce who will head the jury. British helmer Antony Minghella was due to chair, but he died March 18 at the age of 54.

June 14-22
Where: Shanghai, China

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