For Chinese auds, the Shanghai film festival offers the opportunity to see pics that might not make it past the quota system.Last year, Shanghai’s mix of arthouse and commercial films drew more than 300,000 cinemagoers. This year, the festival will feature around 300 Chinese and foreign films in 14 programs at 28 cinemas across the city of 23 million during the 15th edition of the fest, which runs June 16-24. “Shanghai is becoming more and more important in the world film market, especially Asia, and every year we see new elements develop. We hope to provide a platform for communication, to allow people to bring projects to Shanghai and an opportunity for audiences to appreciate different films,” says fest director Tang Lijun. Auds will get a peek at “Remembering 1942,” the latest from Feng Xiaogang, who’s using the fest’s exposure to promote the pic. Feng is China’s most bankable helmer, a man with an uncanny ability to judge what Chinese auds want to see. He cuts easily across genres, from war epics (“Assembly”) to disaster pics (“Aftershock”) to laffers (“Cellphone”). “Remember 1942″ deals with a deadly famine in central China that killed 3 million people that year. Other notable Chinese helmers promoting their works at Shanghai include Lu Chuan, who wowed auds around the world with “City of Life and Death” about the 1937 Japanese invasion of Nanjing, with “The Last Supper” and Sherwood Hu with “Amazing.” International films that are skedded to screen at the fest include Kim Ki-duk’s “Arirang,” which screened in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard and took its top prize last year, Woody Allen’s global box office hit “Midnight in Paris” and this year’s Berlinale Golden Bear winner “Caesar Must Die” from Italy’s filmmaking brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. The fest’s Golden Goblet Award competition lineup includes Russian filmmaker Karen Shakhnazarov’s “White Tiger,” Pavel Lungin’s “The Conductor” and “Chrysalis” from Spain’s Paula Ortiz. This year’s festival has received 1,643 entries from 106 countries and regions competing in various categories. French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud will serve as jury chairman ofthe Golden Goblet Award, while Iranian filmmaker Amir Naderi will serve as jury chairman of the Asian New Talent Award, which hands out cash prizes for director and feature. The film market runs from June 18-20. In the market section, Shanghai combines the China Film Pitch and Catch (CFPC) and the Co-production Pitch and Catch (Co-FPC) sessions under the banner Shanghai Intl. Film Festival Project Market. Eight Chinese projects and 25 Chinese-foreign co-production projects will be presented to potential co-production partners. “SIFF definitely helps promote Chinese films and offers a platform for the world to know more about Chinese films and make greater cooperation and co-production possible between China and the world,” says Tang.
- Among the pics featured at the Shanghai Film Festival will be three films starring Elizabeth Taylor, including “Cleopatra,” “The Blue Bird” and “The Only Game in Town.” For many Chinese this is a first opportunity to see the icon on the bigscreen.
- Three well-known Chinese films in newly restored versions — “Crossroads” (1937), “Spring River Flows East” (1947) and “Crow and Sparrow” (1949) — will also unspool.
- Fest features 20 recent docus such as “Hometown Boy,” about renowned Chinese painter Lui Xiaodong, and “First Position,” a look inside the world of ballet.
- Retrospectives of works by Hong Kong kung-fu director Chang Cheh, the late helmer Francois Truffaut and Chinese director Wu Yigong will screen.
- One of the key events is the Mobile Film Festival, which showcases shorts shot on cellphones and is a big hit in a country where a large percentage of online activity is on cellphones and where these kind of short films have huge auds. A panel of judges will award a winner from six contenders: “Holy Doctor” (by Wang Zhi), “Special Service” (Huang Bo), “How Are You, I Am Fine” (Ma Zhixiang), “I Do” (Tian Meng), “Little Husband and Wife” (Qu Rongda) and “My Way” (Ann Hui).
Annaud leads fest’s Gallic invasion