Film industry veteran, Roger Garcia has been appointed as artistic advisor to the Hainan Island International Film Festival in China. The festival will be held in Sanya, capital of Hainan, a province in southern China that is touted as a tropical tourism destination.
For several years, Garcia held a similar post, as executive director, at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, before stepping aside after the March 2018 edition. He was previously a co-founder of the Hong Kong festival. His advisory team at Hainan includes Elizabeth Lequeret, a critic and past advisor to the Berlinale, veteran film executive Barry Sabath, past Mubi and Astro executive Tang Leeyin, and Hong Kong-based critic Clarence Tsui.
The festival launched last year in December and for its second edition is expanding to include a wider range of activities and functions. Running Dec. 1-8, 2019, the upcoming edition will feature an international competition section and award prizes known as the Golden Coconuts.
Organizers said they intend the festival to have an international film selection, screenings across the entirety of Hainan Island, nationwide impact, and industry support functions. A film market will be headed by Pascal Diot, a veteran executive with experience developing market functions at the Cannes, Venice and Dubai festivals.
Chinese authorities have an uneasy relationship with film festivals abroad and at home — the opening film at last month’s Shanghai International Film Festival was abruptly cancelled after official intervention — though festivals within the country are currently growing in number. Besides the large, generalist festivals in major metropolises of Shanghai and Beijing, new events have sprung up in Pingyao and Xining.
Nevertheless, authorities appear intent on controlling the narrative and drowning out independent voices. The long-standing, but largely Mainland China-focused Golden Rooster festival last month announced 2019 dates set to directly clash with the Golden Horse film festival and awards in Taiwan. While the Golden Horse Awards have long been considered the most prestigious for Chinese-language cinema, the awards are now being shunned by Mainland authorities, after an incident last year when one of the prize winners used her on-stage platform to advocate Taiwan independence. China considers Taiwan to be a rebel province with which it will eventually be reunited.
The Hainan festival dates also overlap with the International Film Festival & Awards Macao, which have now run for three years in Macau, a Chinese-owned Special Administrative Area. The IFFAM’s fourth edition is set to run Dec. 5-10, 2019.