Overview of 20th Shanghai International Film Festival
The Closing Ceremony of 20th Shanghai International Film Festival took place on June 25. As the awards were announced and the winning films were screened one after another, the ten-day Festival has come to an end. This year, the Festival has received 2,528 films from 106 countries, screened 498 films in 1,532 sessions, admitting 420,000 attendences, all of which have reached new records in the history.
As the first major international cultural event held in China after the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the 20th SIFF has integrated promoting Belt and Road cultural exchange from the beginning to the end, expanding the “friend zone” of SIFF by means of agreement signing, panorama, transaction, forum, promotion, etc., and meanwhile inviting the Chinese filmmakers to show talents and release energy in the vast space of Belt and Road. SIFF has demonstrated the effects generated by the serial film policies in the last three years and the great achievements bred thereby, creating a warm industry environment through a variety of services and measures to pull the city closer to cinema art. Walking through 20 sessions, while looking back at the past, the filmmakers and fans, after joining in the 20th anniversary, shall also ponder on how to further polish the name card of Chinese Film Culture & City that has been forged for many years, make the cultural ethos of Shanghai more appealing, and let Shanghai International Film Festival, standing on the century-old film art land, make consistent and sustainable devotion.
The Belt and Road propels cooperation
Film industry forms interconnection
The 20th SIFF has defined promoting Belt and Road cultural exchange as a festival theme. On the first day, the representatives from 15 film festivals and institutions in the 14 countries along Belt and Road signed the Memorandum of Cooperation. The group photo of them joining hands together overflows with solemnity, as well as excitement and joy.
To implement the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by General Secretary Xi Jinping, SIFF launched the Silk Road panorama in 2015; set up“the Belt and Road” Series as a permanent program, and entered into cooperation agreements with Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Cairo International Film Festival, Mumbai International Film Festival and other international competitive non-specialized film festivals last year. When it comes to this year, the 20th SIFF further enhanced collaboration by inviting the representatives of the film festivals and institutions from 14 countries including Romania, Hungary, Greece and Israel to sign the Memorandum of Cooperation on “Belt and Road” Film Culture on the first day of the Festival. The cooperation mechanism, taking films as a carrier, will move forward to strengthen the communication and exchange of film culture among the countries.
The action of SIFF to promote Belt and Road cultural exchange has received active responses from the filmmakers and film organizations of multiple countries. This year, the number of the applying films from 47 countries along the Belt and Road is up to 1,016. After appraisal and selection, 189 productions from 32 countries along became the competition films for the Golden Goblet Awards and Asia New Talent Award, and entered each major panorama programs. Among them, 17 excellent films were screened at the Belt and Road panorama, all of which depicted the local customs and cultural connotations of the countries and nations along the Belt and Road from the perspectives of filmmakers. On the platform of SIFF, the audience savored the splendidness of diversified culture; by virtue of the approach, the Belt and Road cultural exchange was presented in front of the audience in a vivid and intuitive way.
At the SIFF Forum, the Belt and Road Roundtable Talk was also held, where the delegates of the international film festivals and institutions in Iran, Egypt, UAE, Poland, Greece, Hungary, etc. exchanged their local film market status quo, and shared their festival organization experience, audience cultivation strategies and market promotion mechanisms. Despite the different cultural, historical and economic conditions, they have reached consensus on many aspects: no matter in what kind of environment, creation is eventually inseparable to audience, and film festival is an optimal medium to cultivate audience. More importantly, the film industries of the countries along the Belt and Road share many similarities, which means proper cooperation foundation and space; in the past, due to the lack of exchange mechanism, the opportunities for communication were limited, while the Belt and Road Initiative rightly provides unlimited possibilities for the collaboration of the filmmakers in the countries along. All the guests agreed that, the film festivals and institutions shall orient themselves towards the future, reinforce cross-border cultural exchange with the help of various channels and methods, and achieve interconnection and interflow to a larger extent.
Golden Goblet Awards unveiled
Panorama glows in diversity
24 features, animations and documentaries entered the three competitions of the Golden Goblet Awards. Thanks to the work of the International Jury chaired by Cristian Mungiu, each award was decided and unveiled. The artistic quality of the finalists symbolizes the scale and taste of a film festival. The 14 feature films entering the Main Competition, by means of manifold narrations, focus their cameras on all levels of the society, allowing the audience to touch upon the fancy description on different lives and fates, and revealing the sentimental expressions of the filmmakers towards life. The Festival this year has been prolonged for one more day to screen the awarded films, including the Main Competition, Animation Category and Documentary Category. Most of the tickets marked with the awards have been sold out in advance, fully showing Shanghai audience’s attention to the artistic quality of films.
The 498 panorama films have been divided into 27 units: the well-received Tribute to Masters program introduced the masterpieces of prestigious figures Jean-Pierre Melville (France), Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany), Abbas Kiarostami (Iran), etc., letting audience appreciate the classics in the cinema history in front of the screen; the 4K Restoration, SIFF Classics and SIFF Highlights also gathered a number of remarkable film productions across the world to display the abundant heritage of film culture; the Global Village showcased the new and winning productions of Germany, France, Canada, Japan and other countries through thematic film fairs, familiarizing audience with the latest international film trend. The specially planned programs Chinese Opera Films, 90th Anniversary of PLA Founding and Bridge also helped diversify the panorama styles and content to meet the watching needs of different audience groups.
Since 2014 when the 4K Restoration program was launched, SIFF has been adhering to the inheritance of film culture, not only invigorating a batch of Chinese old films, but also attracting a large number of restored-films lovers. This year when the 4K restored film Outside the Window was screened for the first time and one of the two directors who brought Brigitte Lin to the film career Yok Teng Heung met with the audience on a walking stick, the warm applause seemed to have frozen the time. After that, SIFF will keep working with Jaeger-LeCoultre to restore the film Le Peintre directed by Huang Shuqin, and starred by Gong Li and Tung-Shing Yee.
SIFF Forum surges waves
Viewpoints face direct collision
As one of the highlights of the Festival, SIFF Forum provides the best approach for filmmakers to grasp the industry development trends. There, the domestic and overseas established experts carry out discussion and dialogue with regard to the hot topics and latest trends in each field of the industry, from film creation, industrial pattern, to cultural communication, film talents, as well as literary & art criticism, data publishing, etc., all of which have drawn extensive attention from the people both in and out of the industry. The event focuses on the front, middle and back ends of the industry chain, reflecting the Festival's acuity, professionalism and foresightedness with concepts as Cross-over, Integration and Extension.
The 13 forums taking place during the 20th SIFF boast rich themes and diverse perspectives, attended by nearly 100 distinguished guests from each level, link and profession of the film culture industry. In terms of content, there were “Chinese Film Industry Summit Forum” and “Forum on Chinese Film Development” which probed into the overall situation of Chinese films; “Thinking Chinese Genre Films”, “Eastern Culture in Animation Films” and “IPs Full Pack Development and Industries Differences” that focused on different film genres; “Supply Reformation of Chinese Films” studying the industry status quo; “Making Chinese Films with the Spirit of Craftsmanship” calling for staying true to the mission; “Audience Database and Film Production Skills” and other thematic forums. As an international platform interconnecting Asia and even the entire world, SIFF Forum also organized “The Belt and Road Film Culture Roundtable Talk”, “New Generation Chinese Filmmakers in the International Film Market” and “Shanghai-Hong Kong Film Cooperation & Exchange Forum”, manifesting the holistic vision of SIFF to facilitate the close communication of the filmmakers in different regions.
Cristian Mungiu, Chan Ho Sun, Ann Hui, Wong Pak Ming, Stanley Tong, Jiang Zhangke, Ning Hao, Director of Guardians of the Galaxy James Gunn… During the Festival, a number of world renowned filmmakers shared their creation experience and delivered the cutting-edge messages of the industry at SIFF Forum. Some of the guests even spelled out their blunt and astonishing opinions, which were in turn refuted by the mainstream media with factual arguments. The varied comments and viewpoints, from guests and media, collided with each other to form a positive pattern of the whole society paying attention to the industry development through media communication.
The rapid growth of the domestic film market in the previous years made people optimistically believe that “the market will keep expanding”, while the slow-down last year aroused their reflection. At many forums held this year, the guests present have reached consensus that though data is fluctuating, the promising development trend of the Chinese market is unchanged; from the pouring-in of capitals resulting in the surging of film quantity at first, to the emphasis transition from quantity to quality nowadays, Chinese filmmakers’ awareness of excellence is awakening. At the on-site discussions, the industry practitioners invariably emphasized that quality first is the constant pursuit, and domestic filmmakers shall steady cultural confidence; only by relying on the cultural self-consciousness of people-orientation, awareness of excellence and spirit of craftsmanship, can the films with wide popularity and high quality be produced; slow down the pace, walk step by step, and advance farther.
Policies take significant effects
Shanghai becomes film hot-land
In October 2014, Press and Publication Bureau of CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee, Shanghai Municipal Development & Reform Commission, Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film & TV and six other government departments jointed published the Several Policies on Promoting Shanghai Film Development, and then issued a series of policies. During the past three years, Shanghai film industry, driven by the policies, has achieved significant effects. At the SIFF Forum “Interpretation of Shanghai Film Policies”, Wu Xiaoming, Art Director of Shanghai Municipal Culture, Radio Broadcasting, Film and Television Administration disclosed multiple specific data to prove that Shanghai film market is in flourishing and orderly development: in 2016, the total box office of Shanghai was RMB 3.037 billion, an increase of 3.3% year on year, among which domestic films took up RMB 1.442 billion and imported films RMB 1.495 billion; the annual screening sessions reached 2.5168 million, with 73.0672 million attendances, rising by 33.26% and 7.29% respectively compared with the same period of the previous year; average ticket fare was RMB 43.17; 26 cinematic companies have newly established cinemas in Shanghai; in 2016, the cinema quantity and box office of Shanghai both ranked No.1 across the nation. For the time being, the city owns 280 cinemas, 1,584 screens, 230,852 seats, increasing 166 screens and 18,917 seats compared with last year.
The policy effect has also solidly propelled the creation of films. In recent years, the films produced in Shanghai have not only realized growth in quantity, but also attained continuous breakthrough and development in terms of creation, such as multiple varieties, multiple genres and multiple forms. A large number of influential and outstanding films thus showed up in the market. In 2016, a total of 404 films were filed in Shanghai, among which 80 have completed production and 31 have been put in public release, reaching a total box office of 520 million; all the indicators have been improved greatly compared with 2015. Two productions of Shanghai – Kung Fu Yoga and Duckweed have gained prominent performance, creating a record of two films in the same running schedule both exceeding 100 million of box office in Shanghai. Meanwhile, the production level and artistic quality of Shanghai films have also been raised to a new height: the documentary Born in China directed by Lu Chuan broke the box office record in 2016 summer for over RMB 60 million and won extremely high public praise. This April when it was released in North American theaters, the film received box office of more than USD 10 million in the first week, becoming the first-week champion of the new films in North America. Moreover, the Shanghai film policies have also invigorated the market of art films, with the Shanghai Art Film Federation establishing a professional curating mechanism and formulating whole-years plans. Up to now, the Federation has screened over 100 art films in nearly 5,000 sessions, making great contribution to cultivating the watching taste and level of Shanghai audience.
Under the guidance of these policies, for the over two years since the launching of Shanghai Film & TV Production Service Mechanism, corresponding service institutions have been set up in 271 sub-districts and communities, which provided 1,562 times of consultancy & coordination for the film & TV shooting and production entities across China and the whole world, playing an essential role in effectively improving the filming environment in the industry.
Apart from the existing policies, Shanghai also enjoys the longest film history nationwide. This is where filmmakers have access to exceptionally advantageous soil to cultivate their works. With more and more film industry practitioners and institutions taking root in Shanghai, a cluster effect is thus generated. For the Shanghai today, the cultural industry, as one of the most important pillars of the city, has occupied 12.1% of its GDP. The CPC Municipal Committee and Government of Shanghai are now thinking about designating films as a prioritized development direction during the Thirteenth Five-Year period or as of 2040.
Centering on innovation and cultivation
Multiple events come off
As a competition program of SIFF, the Asian New Talent Award, founded in 2004, has assisted in promoting a batch of directors from China and other countries and regions in Asia for over a decade, contributing tremendous efforts to excavating and supporting the rising power of Asian films, as well as activating the regional characteristics and diverse vigor. The SIFF Project, World Express and other projects established by SIFF one after another have formulated a staged new talent · work cultivation mechanism together with the Asian New Talent Award. On the occasion of the 11th anniversary of SIFF Project, there were 380 projects from 21 countries and regions submitting applications. The number achieved great growth compared with last year and broke the historical record, while the overall quality was also satisfactory, featuring more diversified genres. What’s worth mentioning, the newly increased SIFF PROJECT LAB further enhanced the efforts to cultivate and incubate new talents and new works.
On the evening of June 23, after the appraisal and selection of the Jury chaired by Wang Xiaoshuai for several days, the Asian New Talent Award was unveiled. Malaysian film Shuttle Life grasped three awards – Best Film, Best Actor and Best Cinematographer; Takumi Saitoh won Best Director for Blank 13; Israeli actress Adwa Bolle was awarded Best Actress for her performance in Beneath the Silence; Wang Qiang received Best Script Writer for Sunshine that Can Move Mountains. The Ambassador of Asian New Talent Award Xu Zheng sent his invitation letter at the Awarding Ceremony to numerous Asian new talents: “We invite you to Journey of Film along Belt and Road. Bring your wholehearted works, hoist the sail of dream and allow the honorary dream of light and shadow to root, sprout and bloom in this journey!”
For the three years since the launching of I-SIFF serial programs in 2015, the I-SIFF Gala Night has been adhering to the Internet+ action, focusing on the current mainstream topics and industry trends, building up an exchange platform for Chinese and foreign internet institutions and formulating innovative activity models that are close to netizens. The 2017 I-SIFF serial programs have optimized the overall activity setting, and invited distinguished guests and popular figures to discuss about the hot issues, publicize the films to be released during the second half of Year 2017, screen the VR films inserted with latest technologies and construct a versatile platform for the showing, exchanging, financing and publicizing of internet films, which adds a unique scenery to the SIFF.
At the Gala Night on June 21, the cast of Fist & Faith and other films with internet genes showed up at the event, which was broadcast live on PPTV, Tencent, Youku, iQiyi, BILIBILI and other video websites. The internet users thus could watch what was happening at the scene in a real-time manner, as if they were in the theatre. Thanks to the connecting through screens, this special film gathering made possible the face-to-face interaction between fans and popular online casts, celebrities.
In 2014, Jackie Chan launched the Jackie Chan Action Movie Week at SIFF, which has gone through three years now. The Jackie Chan Action Movie Week aims at commending the filmmakers who have made remarkable contributions to action movies, breeding emerging power of action films and pushing action films to the global stage more effectively. The 2017 Jackie Chan Action Movie Week screened more ten action productions from different countries. At the opening ceremony, Jackie Chan discussed about how action filmmakers could tell Chinese stories on the context of Belt and Road with action director Stanley Tong, and directors Lu Yang and Dong Sheng. At the Jackie Chan Action Movie Week Gala Night on June 22, Jackie Chan announced to found the Stuntman Working Committee to provide proper protection for action filmmakers.
Film Market shows energy
New works on stage
As usual, the International Film & TV Market is an integral part of SIFF. During the three-day event, 251 film institutions across the world presented, exchanged ideas and launched collaboration on film projects and products. As the major demonstration and transaction link of SIFF, the appeal of Film Market towards film & TV production institutions is obvious. At the exhibition area, not only gathered a number of domestic established film production enterprises such as Shanghai Film Group Corporation, New Culture Media, Croton and Zhongnan Culture, a group of small and medium-sized exhibitors were also present. The joining of internet, derivatives, cinema services, etc. greatly expands the scale of the film industry. This year, the Film Market has covered many links of the industry including film & TV investment and financing, post production, distribution, marketing, law works and so on, with 19,191 person-times participating in negotiations and 17 market activities.
The event has also attracted the overseas exhibitors from the US, France, the Netherlands, Thailand, Japan, Turkey, Austria, etc. In addition, the Belt and Road National Pavilion was set up at the scene, with the participation of the filmmakers and film institutions from over 25 nations and regions, and Thailand Film Office even organized 14 film and TV companies to take part in. Meanwhile, Time Windows for different countries along the Belt and Road, one-to-one communication with Chinese filmmakers were also arranged. Through the presentation of the cultural characteristics and film industry, introduction of film shooting locations and recommendation of film-shooting preferential policies of each country, the Pavilion fully showcased the cultural connotation of the countries along the Belt and Road, carried out film cultural promotion, facilitated the mutual assistance and collaboration between Chinese and foreign practitioners with an open, tolerant and mutually beneficial attitude, as well as taking the initiative to push domestic films to go global.
As one of the most influential film presentation & communication platforms in Asia, SIFF also becomes a venue for many new productions to hold their press conferences. While the casts of the films in competition for the Golden Goblet Awards sharing their creation process and shooting reflections by turn, Legend of the Naga Pearls, Father And Son, Ganglamedo and Explosion, among others, also hold their launch events or new work warm-up at SIFF, strongly demonstrating the Festival’s powerful market appeal and authoritativeness among filmgoers.
Serve and depend on public
Refine cultural ethos
24 years, 20 editions, in this city with long-standing and profound film traditions, a film festival not only represents the expectation of the masses for cinematic enjoyment, but also plays the role as a propeller for constructing an international cultural cosmopolis and developing the Chinese film market. 20 is not a node, but more of a starting point. Now that the 20th Shanghai International Film Festival has come to a successful conclusion, looking into the future, the mission of continuing the positive momentum and building SIFF as a cultural brand of sustainable development, undoubtedly, cannot be achieved without the service direction as people-orientation.
Thanks to the support of fans, SIFF could evolve to where it is today. As the attendance ratio of Shanghai always ranks high on a nationwide scale, SIFF is even known as the “carnival of film fans”. On the first day of sales, more than 350,000 tickets were booked, and over 360 sessions were sold out. 108 fan meetings of the film casts for panorama ignited the enthusiasm of the fans every day. The specially arranged Chinese Opera Film panorama screened Mu Guiying Command, The Orphan of Zhao and four other classics to satisfy the requirements of the fans of Chinese traditional operas. The 45 cinemas scattered around the city served the audience whole-heartedly, represented by Tianshan Cinema which added 5 sessions for 5 separate fans. Working with Shanghai Film Comment Society, SIFF also organized 20 film appreciation lectures in communities, carried out 127 film screening activities in 16 districts and sent film copies to universities, spreading the light and shadow of films all over the city. Apparently, depending on and serving the masses is the consistent philosophy of SIFF. It is because of people’s deep love for films that root the Festival into the soil of the city so firmly and keep growing it inch by inch.
Taking films as a carrier and screens as a medium, the Shanghai International Film Festival has cultivated a large number of loyal fans year after year, while continuously refining the cultural ethos of the city. SIFF itself is a work gathering the efforts of several generations, a work can never be accomplished by one stroke, but a precious gem that have been and is still being elaborately carved by numerous people through their professional devotion to films, their profound love for the city and unremitting spirit of craftsmanship. Therefore, the Shanghai with SIFF will be more attractive, competitive and influential.