‘The Eight Hundred’ to Open Shanghai Festival, Which Has No U.S. Titles in Competition

The Shanghai International Film Festival unveiled a competition lineup Tuesday that features entries from countries ranging from Indonesia to Estonia – but not the U.S., which is engaged in an increasingly bitter trade war with China.

The government-affiliated festival, which runs June 15-24, will open with the premieres of two Chinese films: Huayi Bros.’ patriotic World War II epic “The Eight Hundred,” directed by Guan Hu, and “Chuanyue Shikong de Huhuan” by Zhang Jiarui, according to Chinese website Mtime. Actor Wu Jing – whose “Wolf Warrior II” and “Wandering Earth” are the top two earning films in Chinese film history – will be the festival’s ambassador.

Fifteen films from around the world will vie for the Golden Goblet Award in the main competition. Notable among them are “Many Happy Returns,” a new title directed by Germany-based Uruguayan filmmaker Carlos Morelli and produced by Germany’s Weydemann Brothers, and “Chicuarotes,” Gael Garcia Bernal’s second turn as a director, which premiered last month at Cannes.

Conspicuous by their omission are any titles from the U.S., in contrast to previous years. Last year, six films in competition had ties to the U.S., including one in the main competition and two out of the five documentaries. In 2017, one of the main competition titles was American, and in 2016, three in the section had production ties to the U.S.

Other films in this year’s competition lineup include “Castle of Dreams” from Iranian director Reza Mirkarimi; “Brotherhood” from Russia’s Pavel Lungin; “The Great Spirit” from Italy’s Sergio Rubini; “Little Nights, Little Love” from Japan’s Rikiya Imaizumi; “Inhale-Exhale” from Dito Tsintsadze (Georgia/Russia/Sweden); “Rosa” (Italy/Slovenia); “Shyrakshy: Guardian of the Light” (Kazakhstan); and “Trees Under the Sun” (India). Three titles hail from China (“The Return”, “Spring Tide,” “Vortex”) and two from Brazil (“Pacarrete” and “Lane 4”).

The jury for the section will be led by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who won the 2014 Palme d’Or, and includes Chinese actors Zhao Tao and Wang Jingchun, Mexican producer Nicolas Celis (“Roma”), Italian director Paolo Geovese (“Perfect Strangers”), Russian director Aleksey German Jr. (“Dovlatov”) and India’s Rajkumar Hirani (“Three Idiots”).

Five films will compete in the documentary category: Chinese director Zhang Yang’s “The Sound of Dali”; “The Fourth Kingdom,” which follows marginalized communities in Brooklyn tied to a plastics recycling center; director Tuki Jencquel’s “It’s All Good”; Colombian director Federico Atehortua Arteaga’s “Mute Fire (Pirotecnia)”; and Kristine Briede and Audrius Stonys’ “Bridges of Time,” hailing form Latvia/Lithuania/Estonia.

Five films will also compete in the animated category: “Dilili in Paris,” directed by Michel Ocelot (France/Belgium/Germany), “Lotte and the Lost Dragons,” directed by Janno Poldma (Estonia), “Louis and Luca – Mission to the Moon” from Norway’s Rasmus A. Sivertsen, “Ride Your Wave” from Japan’s Masaaki Yuasa, and “Spycies” from China, directed by Zhang Zhiyi and Guillaume Ivernel.

Festival organizers also announced nominees for this year’s Asian New Talent Award. The seven nominees for best film include Iranian director Mostafa Sayari’s “The Graveless,” Japanese director Yuko Hakota’s “Blue Hour,” Indian director Akshay Indikar’s “Trijya,” and three titles from China – “Send Me to the Clouds” by Teng Congcong, “The Fourth Wall” by Zhang Chong and Zhang Bo, and “To Live to Sing,” directed by Ma Nan.

Teng Congcong, Akshay Indikar and Yuko Hakota have also been nominated for best director, alongside China’s Huang Lei and Indonesia’s Yusef Radjamuda, who has also been nominated in the screenwriter category for his film “Mountain Song.”

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