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China’s Hainan Film Festival Launches Golden Coconut Competition

The deep-pocketed, government-run Hainan Island International Film Festival has launched a new competition section for its second iteration, set to take place from December 1-8. This year, ten ‘Golden Coconut Awards’ will be given out across three categories of films: feature-length, feature documentaries, and fictional shorts.

Prizes will be presented for best picture, best director, best actor, best actress, best screenplay, best artistic contribution, best children’s picture, special jury prize, best documentary and best short film.

The best picture winner will be awarded RMB250,000 ($35,000), the best director RMB150,000 ($21,000), the special jury prize RMB100,000 ($14,000) and the best actor and actress RMB80,000 ($11,000) apiece.

Feature-length films must be completed after August 15, 2018 and not have been distributed theatrically or publicly screened on TV or online in China before December 1, 2019, and have a minimum running time of 70 minutes. Submissions are open through October 31. Nominees will be announced in November.

Set to take place in the resort city of Sanya, the festival is organized by the China Film Administration, China Media Group, and the provincial government of Hainan. Its first iteration last December had a budget big enough to fly in international stars including Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage, Juliette Binoche, Isabelle Huppert, Mads Mikkelsen and Aamir Khan. Chinese stars in attendance included Jackie Chan, Vicky Zhao, Wang Baoqing and Wang Leehom. But there was such chaos around the festival’s organization that two people close to the operations advised Variety not to attend.

In the intervening period, Hainan has appointed Roger Garcia as its artistic director. 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.

Hainan is also launching a  film market to be headed by Pascal Diot, a veteran executive with experience developing market functions at the Cannes, Venice and Dubai festivals.

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