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Beijing Festival Unveils ‘Mad Max,’ ‘Bourne,’ Kurosawa Screening Series

The upcoming Beijing International Film Festival will give space to high-profile Hollywood franchise movies with screenings of all films in both the “Mad Max” and “Bourne Identity” series. Classic Hollywood fare will also feature prominently in a lineup that, as usual, features an eclectic grab-bag of titles.

The local government-backed festival opens April 13 and runs through April 20.

The list of films nominated in the festival’s competition section, and jury members has not yet been released. Winners of the Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Award will be announced at the closing ceremony.

Since this year is the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, the theme of both the opening and closing ceremonies will be “home and country,” the festival said on its website, so as to make the event “a birthday blessing for the motherland.”

This benediction is so far scheduled to include “Mad Max” (1979), “Mad Max 2” (1981), “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” (1985), and “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015), which never received a China release, as well as all five “Bourne” films starring Matt Damon. Damon is popular in China from having starred in Zhang Yimou’s “The Great Wall,” the most ambitious China-U.S. co-production to-date, and “The Martian.”

The lineup also includes a number of old Hollywood films such as “Gone With the Wind” and John Ford’s 1939 “Stagecoach,” as well as a selection of French New Wave titles, including Agnes Varda’s “Cleo From 5 to 7” (1962) and Eric Rohmer’s “Pauline at the Beach” (1983). There will also be tributes to Akira Kurosawa (“The Last Samurai,” “Rashomon”) and films of works by beloved wuxia novelist Louis Cha, known by his pen name Jin Yong, who passed away in October, including Wong Kar-Wai’s “Ashes of Time.”

A “Belt and Road” themed section is so far said to feature six Indian titles, including Netflix’s 2018 “Love per Square Foot,” three Indonesian titles, and a number of festival films. These include drug crime thriller “Birds of Passage,” which was Colombia’s Oscar entry this year; Paraguay’s “The Heiresses”; and Peruvian drama “Retablo,” which both screened at Berlin in 2018. Also in the lineup are Iranian drama “3 Faces,” which was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2018 and won for best screenplay, and Italy’s recent Oscar entry, “Dogman,” which faced off with the former on the Croisette, winning best actor.

The Beijing festival has recruited 200 fans to attend the opening and closing ceremonies, staying within designated zones, at the venue an hour’s drive outside of central Beijing. The top criterion for selection is that participants “adore the motherland and obey the law.”

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