The Shanghai International Film Festival is planning to take place in-person later this month, likely from July 18-27, according to Chinese and Iranian reports.
Other large, in-person entertainment industry events such as the Shanghai TV Festival and the ChinaJoy gaming industry conference are also set to occur in-person soon, reports said, as the country opens further in the wake of COVID-19 despite recent outbreaks in Beijing and Hebei province.
Chinese cinemas have been shut since January, but credible rumors abound that they will reopen in July — and the news about Shanghai is a further indication in that direction. Last month, authorities said that cinemas in regions at low risk for the coronavirus could reopen with a number of precautions, though more local official directives formally enabling this have yet to emerge.
Though Shanghai Intl. Film Festival itself has not yet put out any official confirmation of its comeback, the news has been widely reported by respected financial publication Caixin and state-backed news outlet China Securities Journal, citing numerous sources close to the matter.
Iran’s Mehr News Agency said Wednesday that the festival will be held from July 18-27 in an article stating that Iranian helmer Kazem Molaie’s feature film “Pitman” will screen in the “Asian New Talents” section.
Approvals for the festival to go ahead were obtained from the National Film Administration before the Dragon Boat Festival holiday, which took place last Thursday, June 25, the China Securities Journal said. The event had previously announced on May 20 that it would be indefinitely postponed from its scheduled June 13-22 run due to the coronavirus.
It will presumably take place this year without foreign guests, as China continues to bar the entry of almost all foreigners despite a small, recent uptick in international flights allowed in and out of the country.
The news of the Shanghai festival’s reinstatement comes on the heels of the FIRST International Film Festival’s announcement earlier this week that it will also take place in-person. Based in Xining, Qinghai province, which has also had a lighter coronavirus burden, it will run from July 26 to August 3 — meaning it may overlap with Shanghai by two days.
Globally, in-person festivals on the roster remain rare due to COVID-19. So far, they include Taiwan’s ongoing Taipei Film Festival (June 25 to July 11) and France’s FID Marseille (July 7-13).
Shanghai has weathered the coronavirus pandemic well for a city three times the size of New York with more than 24 million residents, and was never put under full lockdown.
The metropolis is now mostly dealing with cases “imported” by those returning from abroad, local officials say. As of midnight Wednesday, the city reported local tallies of 713 total confirmed cases, 677 of which have been discharged, 29 cases that are currently in hospital under treatment and seven deaths.
The lower COVID-19 risk means that other large-scale events look set to move forward as well .
China’s largest gaming convention ChinaJoy is scheduled to take place in Shanghai from July 31 to August 3. Last year, nearly 400,000 people attended.
Exhibitors and attendees from Beijing can participate as long as they have proof of testing negative for COVID-19, according to Caixin. Temperatures will be taken during the event, and participants will be required to register with their real names and present proof of a clean bill of health via QR code. Exhibitors have been told to stagger displays to allow for greater social distancing.
Additionally, the Shanghai TV Festival plans to go ahead in early August, the China Daily newspaper cited a film and TV company executive as saying.
Due to time differences, the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival had not yet responded to request for comment at the time of publication.