Annaud leads fest’s Gallic invasion

Fest Traveler: Shanghai Film Festival 2012

One of the highlights of visiting Shanghai is a trip to the French Concession, the quarter formerly occupied by the French but now a popular tourist destination.

And there is a French flavor to this year’s fest, ranging from the choice of jury chair to some of the classic pics on offer.

Helmer Jean-Jacques Annaud will lead the jury for the Golden Goblet Award, the main competition section of the 15th Shanghai Film Festival. Another French highlight of the festival will be a screening of Georges Melies’ “A Trip to the Moon,” considered the first sci-fi movie. It will be shown together with “The Extraordinary Voyage,” a documentary about the French pioneer, most recently the subject of Martin Scorsese’s 3D “Hugo,” which recently opened in China.

Annaud says he has been fascinated by China’s traditional music, opera and films. His appointment to the head of the jury marks his rehabilitation in China after he fell afoul of authorities for his film “Seven Years in Tibet,” about the Austrian adventurer Heinrich Harrer and the young Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader whom the Chinese government considers a dangerous separatist.

Indeed, his rehabilitation is so complete that Annaud will direct the $30 million Chinese-language drama “Wolf Totem,” co-produced by Bill Kong and Beijing-based Forbidden City Film Co.

This year’s fest will show classic movies by Annaud in the Tribute to Masters section. Annaud began his career by directing commercials in the late 1960s, and his first feature, “Black and White in Color,” won the foreign-language film Oscar in 1976. His other films include “Black Gold,” “The Bear,” “Two Brothers,” “Enemy at the Gates” and “In the Name of the Rose.”

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