Event pays tribute to films, recent tragedies

The opening ceremony of the 11th Shanghai Film Festival both celebrated cinema and paid respect to the thousands of dead in the recent Sichuan earthquake.

The 300 celebrities who walked the red carpet at the city’s Grand Theater on Saturday were smart, elegant and sassy rather than overtly sexy. All were given a red paper heart to sign and place in a condolence decoration at the top of the steps.

VIPs included Chinese actresses Zhou Xun, Fan Bingbing and Vivian Wu and Italy’s Maria Grazia Cucinotta; vet helmer Jia Zhangke; actor Daniel Wu; multihyphenate Donnie Yen; Indian director Buddhadev Dasgupta. Also there were fest jurors: producer Ulrich Felsberg, director Bille August and actresses Joan Chen and Kaori Momoi.

Execs attending included Tom Yoda, topper of Japan’s Gaga; multihyphenate Tsui Siuming; Fortissimo’s Michael J. Werner; and producer Yu Dong.

Inside the hall, speeches were limited to those of Zhao Shi, vice minister of the all-powerful State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, and the jury prexy, helmer Wong Kar-wai.

Clips of classic movie scenes depicting people facing disasters with courage and wisdom were screened. There was another emotional moment when the recently widowed Carolyn Choa accepted a posthumous award for her late husband, Anthony Minghella.

Earlier in the day, before the pomp of the official opening, the festival hosted an event in which Ziyi Zhang and Jackie Chan recounted the history of the Sichuan earthquake and the charitable responses to it.

Sunday saw the beginning of business with the opening of the SIFF Market, a film sales and services event strung along three corridors of the Crowne Plaza Hotel that abuts the Film Center.

Sellers are predominantly Chinese shingles and institutions, while buyer registrations reflect a mostly Asian mix.

Day also marked the beginning of a seminar series that is boosting the event’s industry credentials.

A Variety-sponsored session on talent agencies and development of the Chinese star system featured CAA’s Peter Loehr, Huayi Brothers’ Wang Zhonglei, Avex Asia’s Buddy Marini, iHQ’s Teddy Jung, Taihe’s Song Ke and lawyer Robert Darwell.

Meanwhile, 16 films are vying for the fest’s top prize, the Golden Goblet, including “Urtin duu,” by ethnic Mongol filmmaker Hasichaolu, and “Nick of Time,” by mainland director Gao Qunshun.

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