China’s Hainan Film Festival Makes Return With Marco Mueller as Artistic Director

Hainan Island International Film Festival
Hainan Island International Film Festival.

China’s Hainan Island International Film Festival will return to operation early next month for a fourth edition. Marco Mueller, former director of the Locarno, Venice and Rome film festivals is set as its new artistic director.

Mueller is now based in China and has previously had multiple roles at festivals including those in Beijing, Pingyao and Macau.

The Hainan festival will operate Dec. 3-10, 2022, in Sanya, Hainan Province. Its mission is to “strengthen international film cultural exchanges and cooperation.”

The lineup has not been announced, but it is expected to include more than 100 films organized across six sections: Gala, Fest Best, Asian New Directors, Panorama, New Horizons and Classics. Titles will compete for Golden Coconut Awards in at least seven feature film categories, plus a best documentary award and a best short film prize.

Additionally, there will be public screenings in other parts of the island, branded as “Around the Island” and “Screening by the Sea.”

Separately, an industry section will see a revival of the H!Action Project Market, the H!Market Best Shooting Location Recommendation Conference and masterclasses.

A forum or discussion section will be headed by Professor Yu Li. Topics include women’s films, documentaries, developments in China’s children’s film industry, film creation and technology.

“We must continue to call ourselves into question before, during and after the festival. This is how, too, we should confront the audiences of the 4th HIIFF – we must not stop asking questions to them, seeing the festival spectators as a question, rather than as an answer, so as to transmit to them the fever of cinema, the passion for films,” Mueller told Variety. “We shall continue to uphold the virtues of the festival as a departure point for popular knowledge and for the vision and discussion of what is moving and emerging within the various modes of making film in China and the world, confirming the positive strands in contemporary cinema and also pointing out directions for future development.”

Hainan, often considered as China’s tropical beach resort, is promoted as a developing business hub and a gateway for trade and culture. It offers less stringent visa policies for entry and 30-day visa free entry for citizens of 59 countries including the U.S., U.K., Australia and most of the E.U.

China currently operates a dynamic zero COVID policy which aims to eradicate the disease and has high barriers to cross-border entry on health grounds and some ongoing inter-provincial travel restrictions. China’s State Council said that the time overseas visitors have to spend in mandatory quarantine facilities will be reduced from seven days to five days. But officials also said they were refining the rules, not scrapping them.

The festival said that it expects only to be able to those foreigners who are already resident in China to this year’s edition.

Hainan authorities last week ordered mass testing for everyone in Sanya on Saturday. But on Friday evening they replaced that order with a request for residents to make their own arrangements and get tested every three days instead.