Build Dream with Light and Shadow – Symposium of 20th SIFF
Founded in 1993, the Shanghai International Film Festival has taken place for twenty sessions. On the morning of June 25, personages from the film circle, literature and art circle, film academies, film companies, as well as previous Jury members, foreign filmmakers, media and staff gathered at the “Build Dreams with Light and Shadow – SIFF20” Symposium of 20th Shanghai International Film Festival, looking back and into the future together. All the participants wrote down messages, wishing the continuous success of SIFF to become the important cultural brand of Chinese films and inexhaustible resource to promote the core competitiveness of Shanghai. Deputy Director of State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television Tong Gang attended the meeting and addressed a speech.
Shanghai’s cinema culture and industry development history of over a hundred years has accumulated rich and profound film culture resources for the city. In 1992, nearly two years after the Party Central Committee and State Council announced to open up Pudong, the People’s Government of Shanghai Municipality applied for the organization of Shanghai International Film Festival, which was then approved by the State Council at the same year. The first session took place in October 1993; in 1994, the Festival was recognized by International Federation of Film Producers Associations, becoming one of the nine Class A film festivals in the world at that time. The dream for hosting an international film festival belonging to Chinese filmmakers and Shanghai came true. Yu Xiufen, Executive Vice Chairman and Secretary General of 2017 SIFF and Director of Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film & TV pointed out in her keynote speech: “The establishment of Shanghai International Film Festival demonstrates the foresight and pioneering spirit of Shanghai and China. It is an innovative measure to propel urban construction and national film industry through culture. The purpose of reviewing and commemorating the twenty sessions of SIFF is to further steady cultural confidence, raise the brand impact of the festival, and give full play to the role of the event in driving the development of the Chinese film industry and building up Shanghai as an international cultural metropolis.”
For the past 20 sessions, SIFF, together with the development of Chinese films, has gone through the toils and moils of growing up. Relying on the innovation-driven organizing mechanism and unremitting efforts, the Festival has won the trust of the filmmakers and film institutions from home and abroad, which can be easily proved by numbers: in the first session, totally 167 films from 33 countries and regions signed up for the event; while this year, a total of 2,528 films from 106 countries and regions responded to the call for entry. It also shows that while the volume of the festival is continuously expanding, its brand professionalism, authoritativeness and influence have all reached new heights. Under the guidance of the national strategy as to achieve the significant development and prosperity of culture and speed up the construction of cultural industries, the Shanghai International Film Festival keeps attaining success and maturity, not only stimulating the development of the Chinese film cause and industry, the enhancement of Shanghai’s core competitiveness, but also satisfying the cultural needs and love for films of the public. Moreover, the highly forward-looking decision made by the country and city is repeatedly proved to be right by practices.
20 sessions, 24 years, from an infant to a teenager, it’s not merely about how time flies, but also means the growing of inner power, accumulation of connotation and enrichment of content. From the date of birth, Shanghai International Film Festival has been constantly adjusting the organizing measure and perfecting the organizing mechanism in trial and exploration, and have created numerous first-time. For instance, from the 5th session, the biennial festival was changed to an annual event, allowing Chinese and foreign filmmakers to reunite in Shanghai every year in June; from the 7th, the Tribute to Master program was set up to meet the needs of fans for masters and classics; from the 15th, SIFF started to lead in the restoration of Chinese classic movies and take active part in cultural inheritance; from the 17th, led by the government, the organizing mission and direction were further clarified; from the 18th, to connect with the development trend of the Chinese film industry, I-SIFF serial programs, Jackie Chan Action Movie Week and other new projects were launched; when it comes to the 20th anniversary, the duration has been extended for one more day to let people enjoy the awarded films, and a short film competition for Golden Goblet Awards has also been added to incentive and find more emerging talents.
Under the guidance of SARFT, Municipal Party Committee and Government of Shanghai, the connotation accumulation of the Festival as a brand is endowed with a clear development routine, that is, to stay true to the national development guideline, orient itself towards the world, future, industry and people, and keep innovating. The Asian New Talent Award starting from the 7th session, SIFF Project from the 10th, World Express from 18th, all of them help form a new work ·new talent phased growing mechanism involving project incubation, talent cultivation, awarding & incentive and global promotion, not only reflecting the Festival positioning as “Asia, Chinese Films, New Talents”, but also bringing a large number of new talents and works to the platform of SIFF, to major international film festivals and to the immense film market.
After General Secretary Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative, the Shanghai International Film Festival promptly showed active responses and action, launching the Silk Road panorama early at the 18th SIFF. Last year, “the Belt and Road” Series became a permanent program; SIFF entered into cooperation agreements with Estonia’s Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Cairo International Film Festival, etc.; a “Belt and Road” Pavilion was set up at the Film Market. This year, on the occasion of the holding of Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, promoting Belt and Road cultural exchange has been a theme of the 20th SIFF. On the first day, the film festival representatives of the countries along the Belt and Road assembled and together signed the Memorandum of Cooperation. The Best and Road roundtable, film recommendation by nation, thematic exhibition hall and other projects further spurred the intimate interaction between the countries along, and offered opportunities to the Chinese filmmakers to show their talents and abilities.
Consistently driving development through innovation and improving quality with services manifests that the growing of the Festival highly aligns with the city spirit of Shanghai. Up to today, if every session of SIFF has left a footprint on Chinese cinema and Shanghai, how to move forward to persist in cultural self-consciousness so as to exert its power and foster it as a cultural brand in the future, is a new topic faced by SIFF.
At the symposium, film directors Jia Zhangke, Cao Baoping, Pema Tseden and Liu Jie shared their connection with SIFF, and looked forward to seeing more Chinese film directors fully showing their talents at the stage; famous performing artist Qin Yi, General Manager of Central Motion Picture Co. Jiang Ping, President of Shanghai Film Group Ren Zhonglun, Director General of China Film Producers’ Association Ming Zhenjiang, Secretary General of FIAPF Benoit Ginisty spoke at the meeting as well.
Jia Zhangke said: “A film festival shall first provide the latest information for us Chinese film industry workers to let us get in close touch with the cinema development trend and equip us with the ideas and abilities required for international production, and Shanghai International Film Festival has been playing such a role as a window and a bridge for the past twenty sessions.”
Cao Baoping, first acknowledged by SIFF Asian New Talent Award for his debut feature in 2006 and then awarded Best Director of the Golden Goblet Awards in 2015 for The Dead End, has been invited to be the Jury Member of the Golden Goblet Awards this year. Taking himself as an example, he appreciated SIFF for its efforts to help and support young filmmakers. The same as Cao Baoping, Pema Tseden and Liu Jie also brought their first works to SIFF in 2006; from then on, they have walked on the podium and become Jury Members. They extended their gratitude to SIFF and its organizers and staff: “Every year at the Festival we can see good films. It’s blessed place for both filmmakers and audience. Wish SIFF a bright future!”
As the participant and witness from the very first session to the 20th, Qin Yi said with passion: “Film production is very important, for it is closely connected to people’s culture and art life. Everyone, young or old, is inseparable to cinema. When it comes to my age, I cannot live without films, as it always stays in my mind. The Chinese film cause will keep revolving in order to take up an important position on the international stage.”
General Manager of Central Motion Picture Co. Jiang Ping was one of the organizers of the 1st SIFF in 1993. He looked back at the arduous founding process of the Festival. Many of the filmmakers and artists who went around for the Festival have passed away, “Our last generation has done so much work, but was never awarded at SIFF. They paved such a long path and shed so much sweat to build up the event from nothing. They are gone now, but have left us huge treasures, which help forge the glorious 20th SIFF today. We miss them. When we are here taking about the 20th session, we shall never forget them.”
Ren Zhonglun, Executive Vice Chairman of the Organizing Committee this year and President of Shanghai Film Group, considered SIFF the engine or the motor of the Chinese film industry, which assembles so many film production representatives from home and abroad to discuss about the topics in regard to art, industry, dialogue and collaboration. Especially this year, with so many film institutes here, the cohesive force is enormous. All of them are grateful to the foregoers for creating such a brilliant stage for Shanghai and Chinese filmmakers, “The progress of these twenty sessions is made by one generation after another. We are all looking forward to the success of SIFF. It’s a dream of several generations to make SIFF the best film festival.”
Director General of China Film Producers’ Association Ming Zhenjiang said in his speech: Shanghai International Film Festival has walked through the extraordinary journey of twenty sessions. Just as the Chinese film industry has achieved remarkable outcomes for the past over 20 years, SIFF, by virtue of the Opening-up and Reform, is thriving to be a vital symbol of the development of the Chinese film industry, an important platform for Chinese and foreign filmmakers to showcase achievements and carry out collaboration & exchange, an appealing name card of Shanghai as an international cultural cosmopolis, as well as an indispensable cultural festival engaging all the film fans across Shanghai and even China. SIFF insists in uniting with people and advancing with times, relying on strong cultural confidence and self-awareness to stay true to the mission, retain sincerity, call for ingenuity and spread compassion, and performing our splendid Chinese Dream with our fascinating Film Dream.
As introduced by Secretary General of FIAPF Benoit Ginisty in his address, FIAPF had certificated Shanghai International Film Festival as an international Class A film festival early in 1995 when only two sessions of the Festival were held, which was rare. It shows how much importance has FIAPF attached to SIFF. In the following 24 years, we witness the constant evolution of SIFF. Thanks to SIFF staff’s enthusiasm for films, professional attitude and unremitting efforts, SIFF keeps creating global film galas for Chinese audience, and for directors and producers all around the world year by year. Meanwhile, we see the international status of SIFF rising unceasingly.
Chairman of the Organizing Committee this year and Deputy Director of SARFT Tong Gang, who has attended every session of SIFF from the very first year, pointed out in the speech that, over the years, SIFF is growing up with the Chinese film cause and film industry, and the revitalization footprints of Chinese cinema are also recorded in the history of SIFF. The international impact, professionalism and authoritativeness of SIFF nowadays is incomparable to that in the beginning, a sign of maturity; therefore, it has to bear more responsibilities. It is SIFF’s unaltered mission to serve people and meet the ever increasing cultural demands of them, which is also a requirement of social public cultural service; another nonnegligible mission is to implement the national cultural development strategy, and push the Chinese films to the international stage. The most highlighted theme of the 20th SIFF is promoting Belt and Road cultural exchange, featuring abundant activities such as the agreement signing ceremony, Belt and Road Pavilion, Belt and Road Forum, etc., which have helped SIFF to be acquainted with its counterparts in the countries along. Of course, this is merely a beginning, there is still a long way to go; just like the footprints in the Dreams with Light and Shadow Exhibition, hope we could keep leaving one footprint after another in the future. In this sense, promoting Belt and Road cultural exchange is not only our duty, but also offers a vast space for numerous film industry workers to freely demonstrate their talents and capabilities.