17.3 C
Wednesday, October 4, 2023
HomeEntertainmentThe 25th edition of the Shanghai International Film Festival now promises to...

The 25th edition of the Shanghai International Film Festival now promises to excite Asian cinema


Judging by the awards presented, the 25th Shanghai International Film Festival delivered on its promise to honor the rising stars of both Asian and Chinese cinema.

There were Golden Goblet wins for established markets Japan and China, and the lesser known markets, including Uzbekistan. And there were a number of scene-stealing emotions shared on the stage of the Shanghai Grand Theater, including the moments when two of China’s biggest stars, Hu Ge and Da Peng, were jointly awarded the festival’s best actor award, and then memories shared in their long-lasting friendship.

Japanese director Kazuyoshi Kumakiri was certainly impressed by the occasion, as China’s main festival event marked a return to normalcy – and a return of international guests – after the travel restrictions and various uncertainties of the global pandemic.

Kumakiris Yoko won the awards for best feature film, best actress and best screenplay of the festival in the main competition of the Golden Globlet on Saturday night. The jury applauded a “special film” that tells the story of a middle-aged woman (played by former Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi, of Babylon fame) whose father’s death forces her to interact with people, after two decades of isolation from society.

“Kikuchi and I have been thinking about working together for about 20 years,” Kumakiri said. “Today the wish comes true, and we are standing here now. It’s so unreal, like we’re in a dream.”

In total, SIFF selected 53 films from around the world to compete in the five main Golden Goblet sections – the main competition, Asian new talent, documentary, animation and short film categories – and by the time the curtain fell on Sunday, more than 450 films screened during the festival’s 10-day run. The festival also saw crowds return – more than 300,000 tickets were apparently purchased within an hour of the sale coming online – and fans flocked to catch a glimpse of international A-listers including Michelle Yeoh, Jason Stratham, Chow Yun Fat and Zhang Ziyi.

Look closely at the program and you would have noticed two markets conspicuous for their absence – the US and South Korea – as troubled diplomatic relations continue to overshadow events in China. But organizers in Shanghai have walked away, pointing to the connections the festival managed to make within the large segment of the global film community in attendance. And among the smaller Asian markets represented this year was Laos, with the horror The signaland Uzbekistan, which won the Asian New Talent category with domestic drama Sunday – a surprise that almost literally left the director Shokir Kholikov speechless.

“SIFF has provided an appropriate stage for the industry to unleash development capacity and for filmmakers and institutions to release the latest achievements,” said Wenquan He, general manager of the Shanghai International Film and TV Events Center. “The main driving force behind the development of the Shanghai International Film Festival lies in the fact that this metropolis has always been at the epicenter of innovation and development, has always adhered to the ‘open, innovative and inclusive’ urban character and the spirit of the city. It has always strived to become a window for China to connect the world.”

China’s Liu Jiayin was named best director for it One and all ear, which follows a eulogy writer whose work changes the way he views life and marks a return to the director’s chair after more than a decade of teaching screenwriting. The director said it was a very personal film, and one that helped change the way she viewed her own life.

There was a lot of praise from the judges. “This film touches on current themes in modern times and takes our feelings to faraway places. The natural performances of all the actors are a testament to the director’s remarkable abilities,” they said.

One and all ear is all about one man’s personal journey – and when that man is played by Hu, there will always be commotion (the 40-year-old star has about 70 million followers on social media). In accepting his best actor award, Hu once again stole the show, but quickly shared it and the award with Da Peng, whose turn in the thriller Dust to dust saw the festival decide to split the Best Actor award between the pair.

Cue shared memories on stage from when they met, one as a rising star (Hu) and a young journalist who wanted to act (Da Peng). Social media in China have been feasting on the moment ever since.

“We met in 2005,” explains Hu. “And we climbed a snowy mountain together. The road of making art and climbing the snow mountain is the same – we never knew when we would reach the top – but it has been a worthwhile journey.

Famous for his TV comedy and his movies, Da Peng arrived in Shanghai with a double bill. The Jonathan Li directed Dust to dust was in contention for the main competition awards, while Da Peng’s own latest effort as a director, the street dance-themed comedy The only real, the festival officially closed. And once again it showcased his commercial savvy, with ex-boyband star Wang Yibo outplaying veteran box office draw Huang Bo.

Dust to dust draws on the talents of Hong Kong Li for his sophomore feature — he is known for previous work as an assistant director on, among others, Infernal Affairs IIIpart of the franchise that inspired Martin Scorsese’s Oscar winner The departed — and it also taps into an infamous 1995 robbery in southern China’s Guangdong province for its story.

SIFF showed that the commercial nous of Hong Kong filmmakers continues to be tapped for mainly mainland Chinese blockbusters. It’s a trend that won’t end anytime soon; and veteran Herman Yau used SIFF to introduce his latest thriller Moscow mission at a festival sidebar event, although it was not shown. from Yau Moscow mission also taps into a true crime story that captivated China – this time a violent 1993 trans-Siberian train robbery – and features big box office draws in Andy Lau and Zhang Hanyu.

International filmmakers who helped Shanghai return to normal operations expressed the enthusiasm of the fans who attended the Q&A sessions after the screening, and the festival in general, with 91-year-old Japanese leader Yoji Yamada — back in Shanghai after a 20-year break from his family drama Mom, is that you? as part of the main competition – and said he was impressed with how “more mature and atmospheric” the festival had become.

There was a series of MasterClasses designed to provide insight into the filmmaking process and inspire hopefuls in the Chinese film industry. Experienced filmmakers Peter Chan, Ildikó Enyedi, Zhang Lu and Sho Miyake spoke to packed houses.

SIFF also hosted a Sci-Fi Film Week, capitalizing on the rise of a genre that, despite being a relatively new phenomenon in China, had seen its most successful franchise soar to over $1.3 billion this year in total ticket sales after the release of The Wandering Earth 2 in January. There were seminars on topics such as “Sci-Fi: An All-humanity Perspective and Chinese Stories”, and festival-goers had to think about the possibilities ahead, as the seminar speakers seemed to share the prediction that “sci-fi with Chinese Characteristics” take the genre to a brave new world of cinema.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

Latest stories