The Shanghai International Film Festival, China’s most prestigious event in the film industry, kicks off its 25th anniversary on Friday night. It will be the first version of the festival to be easily accessible to the global film community since 2019, after the past three editions were either canceled or made difficult to attend due to strict COVID-19 travel restrictions at the time.
This year, movie stars from within and without will flock to China’s commercial capital to celebrate the continued comeback of China’s film industry. Jason Statham will lend some Hollywood star power to the performance when he walks the red carpet Friday night for the opening ceremony of the festival promoting his upcoming Warner Bros. blockbuster sequel, Meg 2: The Trench, which opens on August 4 and stars Chinese protagonist Wu Jing. European film legend, Jerzy Skolimowski from Poland, who wrote Roman Polansky’s milestone Knife in the water back in 1962, and was nominated for an Oscar just last year for EO — is the president of the Shanghai competition jury this year. And plenty of Chinese talent will participate in the event, including the heads of China’s largest film studios and actors, including Zhang Hanyu, Xia Yu, Chow Yun Fat, Han Geng and many more.
The festival’s film selection is as eclectic as ever – with a notable absence of US and Korean film industry titles – but with plenty of potential gems scattered throughout the programming. The festival runs from June 9 to 18. below, The Hollywood Reporter has selected five promising titles to watch in Shanghai.
Love never endsdirected by Han Yan (China)
Han Yan, long regarded as one of China’s most promising young commercial directors, opens the 25th Shanghai International Film Festival with this romantic drama about finding love later in life. Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Cecilia Yip, Ni Dahong and Kara Wai play two elderly couples who find comfort in the film’s story, which is adapted from a wildly popular webcomic by South Korean artist Kang Full. Han broke through in 2015 with Go away Mr Tumor, which was selected as China’s Oscar entry that year. His most recent feature film drama, A small red flowerearned $216 million in December 2020, so hopes are high for it Love never ends.
Mom, is that you?!directed by Yoji Yamada (Japan)
A living treasure, now 91-year-old Yoji Yamada from Japan arrives in Shanghai with his 90th feature film – and one that returns to a theme he has developed with unusual mastery over his 60-year career: family. Mom, is that you?! is the third installment in Yamada’s “Mother Series”, which follows Kabei: Our Mother (2008) and Nagasaki: Memories of my son (2015), both well received by critics. The film follows Akio (Yo Oizumi), a beleaguered salaryman on the brink of divorce and a rocky relationship with his middle-aged daughter. One day, he decides to visit his mother (Japanese film legend Sayuri Yoshinaga), and notices that things are not quite right. She has traded in her kitchen apron for stylish clothes, seems more alive than ever – and is even in love. As he begins to investigate, Akio sees a side of his mother he had never noticed before – and begins to discover an important part of life he had lost sight of.
Dust to dustdirected by Jonathan Li
This crime thriller starring popular comedian Da Peng and actor Zhang Songwen (star of the recent popular TV drama The knockout), is based on a real-life armed robbery from 1995, when a group of five thieves ambushed a cash-in-transit vehicle in Guangdong, killing three bank couriers and making millions run off. Three of the perpetrators were quickly apprehended, but the two masterminds disappeared without a trace – until they suddenly reappeared two decades later. The film is directed by Jonathan Li, who cut his teeth as an assistant director on several Hong Kong crime classics, including Hellish things 3, Dog bites dogand the overheard series.
The signaldirected by Lee Phongsavanh (Laos)
Shanghai is taking advantage of its deep entrenchment this year in some of Asia’s lesser-known areas – and here, in the Asian New Talent section, comes a horror-themed family drama from Laos, probably the smallest market the region has on the map. field of film production. The plot of first feature film director Lee Phongsavanh is promising – a country girl arrives in the great smoke to find her father and reveals some disturbing family secrets – and much is expected given the disturbing films of the genre produced by Southeast Asian neighbours, such as Thailand and Vietnam, can be so many times.
Master Zhongdirected by Wang Yuxi and Huang Shanchuan (China)
Chinese streamer iQiyi makes no secret of its global ambitions, supporting the country’s burgeoning animation sector to help reach international audiences. The streamer has used the talents of two graduates of the influential Beijing Film Academy animation school for this film. The film tells the story of a demon slayer who comes to rescue a young girl trapped in the underworld – and who then takes the child on as an apprentice.