The Shanghai International Film Festival revealed the competition selection for its 25th anniversary edition on Monday, featuring a lineup that includes many local Chinese titles, as well as substantial admissions from Iran and Japan. It is noteworthy, however, that festival organizers chose not to include any films from the American film industry in their 2023 competition lineup.
The 2023 Shanghai Festival, which will run from June 9 to 18, will be the first version of the event to be easily accessible to the global film industry since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Last year, the festival was canceled in the aftermath of the month-long COVID-19 lockdown and the government’s strict travel restrictions at the time. Held for the past two years, the festival became an almost entirely domestic Chinese affair, as flights to and from China were hard to come by at the time (and all travelers had to endure lengthy and expensive hotel quarantines to access the country).
This year, Shanghai organizers hope to lure the world back to China by extending Beijing’s current “open for business” policy to the cultural sphere. But deteriorating diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing, as well as diminished revenues from US films in China, could prove headwinds to substantial US industry participation, according to insiders.
The Shanghai Film Festival is widely regarded as China’s most established and artistically respected cinema event. But the lineups of the competitions were rather eccentric for a festival of its size, as the event, like all official cultural activities in China, is as dependent on prevailing local political priorities as it is on the artistic will of programmers. For the 2023 edition, organizers said they had received nearly 8,800 film entries to choose from, spanning more than 128 countries and regions. However, the high-flying Korean film industry is another notable absence from the league’s lineup, thanks to a de facto ban on Korean entertainment in China stemming from old geopolitical grievances.
Shanghai’s screening lineups for other parts of the festival, which generally feature more crowd-pleasing retrospectives of Hollywood and international commercial films, are expected in the coming days, along with the composition of the 2023 competition jury.
Competition feature film
“All Ears” Dir. Liu Jiayin (China)
“Dust to Dust” Dir. Jonathan Li (China)
“Good Fall, Mama” Dir. CHEN Shizhong (China)
“Joseph’s Son” Dir. Haobam Paban Kumar (India)
“Lighting” Dir. Connor O’Hara (UK)
“Mom, is that you?!” Aim. Yoji Yamada (Japan)
“Muyeres” Dir. Marta Lallana (Spain)
“Nina” Dir. Oksana Bychkova (Russia-Georgia)
“The Annoyed” Dir. Mehdi Fard Ghaderi (Iran)
“The Chapel” Dir. Dominique Deruddere (Belgium)
“The first day of my life” Dir. Paolo Genovese (Italy)
“Yoko” Dir. Kazuyoshi Kumakiri (Japan)
Asian new talent
“1.5 HP” Dir. Rasool Kahani (Iran)
“Cause of Death: Unknown” Dir. Ali Zarnegar (Iran)
“Daydreaming” Dir. WANG Zichuan (China)
“Gone With The Boat” Dir. CHEN Xiaoyu (China)
“In Broad Daylight” Dir. Lawrence Kan (Hong Kong)
“Love, my way” Dir. LIU Bing (China)
“May” Dir. LUO Dong (China)
“People who talk to stuffed animals are nice” Dir. Yurina Kaneko (Japan)
“Qash” Dir. Aisultan Seit (Kazakhstan)
“Sunday” dir. Shokir Kholikov (Uzbekistan)
“The Signal” Dir. Lee Phongsavanh (Laos)
“Time still turns the pages” Dir. Nick Cheuk (Hong Kong)
“Dolphin Boy” Dir. Mohammad Kheirandish (Iran-Turkey)
“Four Souls of Coyote” Dir. Aaron Gauder (Hungary)
“Gonta: the story of the dog with two names in the Fukushima disaster” Dir. Akio Nishizawa (Japan)
“Master Zhong” Dirs. WANG Yuxi-HUANG Shanchuan (China)
“The Inseparables” Dir. Jérémie Degruson (Belgium-France-Spain)
“Anxious in Beirut” Dir. Zakaria Jaber (Jordan-Lebanon-Qatar-Spain)
“Leap Of Faith” Dir. YANG Lina (China)
“Moses’ Spies” Dir. Itzik Lerner (Israel)
“The Caravan” Dir. Núria Clavero-Aitor Palacios (Spain-Mexico)
“The passion of Mahmoud” Dir. David Abdolmaleki (Iran)