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Propaganda Films to Dominate Chinese Theaters in Anniversary Year

A presentation at the Shanghai International Film Festival on Sunday shed light on the welter of propaganda films that will compete with Hollywood blockbusters for the attention of Chinese cinema goers in the second half of this year.

This year is laden with political significance for China’s ruling Communist Party. It is 100 years since the May Fourth movement in which students led protests against foreign colonial powers in China. In October China will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

“The Climbers” starring “Wolf “Warriors” and Chinese patriotic film icon Wu Jing, is a production by Shanghai Film Group that releases at the end of this month. “The mountain climbers represent the Chinese people’s spirit of conquering challenges,” said SFG chairman Ren Zhonglun.

Edward Cheng, VP at Tencent & CEO of Tencent Pictures, said that social media giant Tencent is backing the Dante Lam-directed “The Rescue” which will release in January 2020. The $80 million-budget film has finance from the Ministry of Transport.

Tencent is also backing a patriotic anthology of short stories directed by a group of all-star directors including Chen Kaige, Ning Hao, Zhang Yibai, Xue Xiaolu, Xu Zheng, Wen Muye. The film, which is aimed at a release during the National Day holidays, is called “Wo He Wo De Zu Guo” and currently has no English-language title.

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“China Film will stick to its tradition of producing dedication films,” said Jiang Ping, GM of state-backed China Film Group, and will release two special movies. One, “Bai Wan Xiong Shi“ takes its Chinese title from a Mao Zedong poem. The other one “Tai Yang Sheng Qi De Shi Ke” has creative involvement from Bayi Film Studio. Neither have English titles.

Enlight Media is readying Zhang Yimou’s “Jian Ru Pan Shi” (no English title), which will cover topics from anti-corruption to anti-crime. “It’s Zhang Yimou’s first film on contemporary urban topics,” said Enlight chairman Wang Changtian.

Yu Dong, CEO of Bona Film Group, shed light on his compaby’s commitment to three upcoming films, each based on real events: “The Bravest,” ”The Chinese Pilot,” and “The Rescue.” Bona is also working with the Beijing City government on “Jue Sheng Shi Ke” (previously called “China 1949”), a story that takes place on the day that P.R.C. was founded.

Wanda Film has co-produced two films, “Wo He Wo De Zu Guo” and “Liberation”, a film directed by Li Shaohong and produced by Han Sanping. Zeng Maojun, president of Wanda Film pointed out, “most films this year are produced by multiple companies. Companies and filmmakers are working together to dedicate these films to the 70th anniversary.”

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