The Beijing International Film Festival will run an online fest on streamer iQIYI over China’s May 1 Labor Day holiday, typically one of the busier times of year for cinemas, which are still struggling with coronavirus-imposed shutdowns.
Fifth Generation helmer Chen Kaige (“Farewell my Concubine,” “Legend of the Demon Cat”), actor Tong Dawei (“American Dreams in China,” “The Flowers of War”) and actress Tan Zhuo (“Dying to Survive,” “The Bravest”) will serve as specially invited curators.
The tenth edition of the annual Beijing International Film Festival was supposed to have taken place from April 19-26, but the event was postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic. It is now offering up the “Spring Online Film Festival” from May 1-5 as a stopgap measure for cinema fans thirsty for new content but unable to return to theaters just yet.
In an announcement, the festival said it remains “postponed,” without directly using the word “canceled.”
The move comes as film festivals worldwide are getting canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. On Monday, YouTube said it would host a 10-day online film festival with films from 20 top festivals, including Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, Berlin, Tribeca and Venice from May 29-June 7 called “We Are One.”
The line-up for the online Beijing festival has yet to be announced, but it will reportedly include “new blockbuster films,” foreign titles and award-winning works from years past.
Streamer iQIYI is the festival’s official online screening partner, while Sina Weibo, a platform similar to Twitter, is its official social media partner. The event’s catchphrase roughly translates to “Enjoy your date with springtime.”
Chinese cinemas have been closed since late January, despite a brief period where about 4% of venues nationwide attempted to slowly reopen in regions where the epidemic appeared to be more under control. Business proved extremely slow, and they were ordered shut again by authorities concerned about potential second waves of infections. Recent official guidelines indicate they will continue to remain shut for the foreseeable future.