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Shanghai Festival Defies Gloom to Open on Upbeat Note

The Chinese film industry may not yet have emerged from a “cold winter” production freeze, nor its box office kept pace with 2018. But but those inclement elements did not put a chill on the pageantry at the Shanghai International Film Festival.

The opening ceremony for the festival’s 22nd edition went ahead Saturday with the usual red carpet parade, and with the habitual speeches and formalities. But it did so without the scheduled world premiere screening of Guan Hu’s “The Eight Hundred.”

News that the historical war film had been cancelled “for technical reasons” was abruptly circulated just 24 hours earlier — too late for the festival to arrange another new film to take its place. The screening of the second opening film, Chinese drama “Beautiful Voyage,” went forward as planned.

The usual inclement seasonal weather, known locally as “plum rains” held off, permitting a red carpet parade that showcased mainland and Hong Kong stars, top local film makers, and the international jury, headed by Turkey’s much decorated auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Officials, jury members and stars were called on to praise the festival and its achievements.

The Shanghai Intl Film festival has become “a calling card for the city of Shanghai” and “one of the most influential film festivals in Asia” said Ying Yong, Mayor of Shanghai

“When I look at the previous presidents, it’s a rich history of film, and the great achievements they’ve made in film history and the artistic life they’ve given to the Golden Goblet trophy make me feel really honored,” said Ceylan.

Top Chinese actress Tang Wei as well as stars Shu Qi and Lu Han, who star together in the upcoming sci-fi blockbuster”Shanghai Fortress,” were on hand to present a medley of trailers for the competition films. “After shooting Shanghai Fortress, whenever we come to the city we feel quite emotional and like we should be on a mission,” joked Lu. Other presenters included Wu Jing (Wolf Warrior II”), while Zhang Ziyi (“House of Flying Daggers”) graced the stage in a white gown to present her new film “The Climbers.”

Earlier, the team from “Wild Goose Lake” including actor Liao Fan and Gui Lun Mei were red carpet rock stars. They performed the film’s dance routine on the runway to the tune of “Rasputin.”

Bona Film Group founder and chairman Yu Dong brought with him the biggest entourage of the evening, including producers and talent from two of Bona’s upcoming movies: “The Rescue” and “The Bravest.” “Rescue” director Dante Lam and producer Cindy Leung accompanied star Eddie Peng.

Others on the carpet included producer Terence Chang, “Skyfire” actress Hanna Quinlivinn, producer Ellen Eliasoph, Hong Kong actor Nick Cheung, and actress and Shanghai festival juror Zhao Tao.

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