Gathering in Shanghai in the Name of Films
Oriented towards “Asia, Chinese and new talents” as of old, the 18th Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF for short) focused on film per se and devoted itself to integrating film industry potentials, absorbing social forces, discovering new topics related to industrial development and leading the industry to a brighter future through elaborate and diversified film panoramas, an industrial platform constructed with forum, market and release, a new talent cultivation platform constructed with venture, a series of online activities, Asian New Talent Award and Golden Goblet Award, as well as service provided to film fans, films and filmmakers.
This year’s SIFF received record-breaking 2,096 entries from 108 countries and regions. Through the work of the film selection committee, 391 Chinese and foreign films were screened altogether 1,275 times for over 300,000 viewers, covering 51 screens in 45 cinemas in 17 Shanghai districts and grossing nearly 18 million yuan. A total of 80 audience meetings were organized.
With an area of over 22,000 square meters, this year’s “SIFF Market” witnessed more than 500 exhibitors and 6,000-plus professional buyers, among which over 40 percent were from countries and regions like Germany, Russia, Austria, Italy, New Zealand and Taiwan. Since its establishment, “SIFF Project” has helped to bring about the completion of 24 projects. This year, it received altogether 285 entries from 15 countries, and the selection committee singled out 35 finalists, among which ten fell into “New Talent Project” and eight were co-production projects. Over 630 negotiation appointments for the finalists were made, hitting an all-time high.
Awards: Stepped Platform Provides New Talents a Bigger Stage
Oriented towards “Asia, Chinese and new talents” as of old, the 18th SIFF stepped up its effort to support and cultivate new forces for Asian filmdom through film project venture, the first-ever series of internet-SIFF activities as well as the stepped platform of upgraded Asian New Talent Award and Golden Goblet Award.
The cooperation upgrades of this year’s “SIFF Project” have ushered in capitals not only from traditional film enterprises like Bona, Enlight Media and EEG, but from funds and venture capitalists, such as SOVA Capital, DT Capital Partners, LeBox Capital, helping mature projects to join hands with investors and thus ensuring the successful shooting of the films concerned. “New Talents Project” finalists Shanghai Cowboarders and Famous Book were awarded the “Most Creative Project”, while the title “Project with the Greatest Market Potential” was given to three films, namely, Diamond by Xu Ang, whose earlier work 12 Citizens won Best Film award at International Rome Film Festival, Just Kidding by Zhang Bingjian, whose work North by Northeast was shortlisted for Tokyo International Film Festival and SIFF, as well as Reset by Korean director Chang (Yoon Hong-Seung), whose work The Target was shortlisted for the Golden Goblet Award at the 17th SIFF.
The first-ever series of internet-SIFF activities was composed of three parts, i.e. “Internet & Film Industry Investment Summit”, which aimed at nurturing new internet film products, “I-SIFF Shanghai Summit”, which focused on the future trend of internet film development, and “I-SIFF Night”, which was devoted to providing a publicity platform for internet-related films. Against the background of deeper integration of the internet and film, the series of internet-SIFF activities provided full support to young dreamers.
“Asian New Talent Award” has encouraged a good number of emerging filmmakers, including directors like Ning Hao, Pema Tseden, Gao Qunshu and Tom Lin, all of whom were introduced to the industry and the world through this award. This year, the award was upgraded and becomes the only professional award in Asia that adopts “nomination system” in giving commendation to new talents. The jury panel was impressed by 15 outstanding Asian films and eventually, new prominent Iranian director Hooman Seyedi’s work 13 won the Best Film award and the Best Cinematographer award, thus becoming the biggest winner of Asian New Talent Award.
“Golden Goblet Award”, the main competition section of this festival, has showcased the professionalism, authority and influence of the festival. Many outstanding films converged on this year’s Golden Goblet Award. Finalists of this award included Sunstroke by renowned Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov, Salut D’amour by noted South Korean director Kang Je-kyu, Where the Wind Settles by famous Chinese Taiwan director Tung Wang, much-publicized The Dead End by Chinese director Cao Baoping, Love in the 1980s by Chinese director Huo Jianqi, Southpaw, which features Hollywood star Jake Gyllenhaal as its starring role, The Shameless, which stars South Korean actress Do-yeon Jeon, and Journey to the Shore by Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa.
Screening: Disseminating Diversified Mainstream Values
The SIFF worldwide panorama sector gave the festival an atmosphere distinct from the Hollywood system.
The organizing committee ensured the safety of screening through means like standardized copy projection. Ticket purchase became convenient both online and offline thanks to the professional ticket purchase platform provided by Taobao. On June 6, the day the ticket booth opened, numerous film fans entered the Taobao platform in a matter of three minutes and bought nearly 20,000 tickets. On June 21 the closing day, the festival’s panorama screening grossed nearly 18 million yuan.
Apart from great hits at Oscar, Cannes, Berlin International Film Festival and Venice Film Festival, such as The Theory of Everything, Birdman, Whiplash, Boyhood, Leviathan and Two Days, One Night, this year’s worldwide panorama presented programs entitled “The Chinese People’s 70 Anniversary of the Victory of the Anti-Japanese War and World Anti-Fascist War”, “On the Silk Road” and “BRICS Selection”, to list but a few. Besides, as this year marks the 120th anniversary of the world’s films and the 110th anniversary of Chinese films, SIFF brought a batch of masterpieces in the history of motion pictures. This year, “Tribute to the Masters”, a section deeply loved by film fans, screened the classic works by big shots in filmdom like Jean-Luc Godard, Ken Takakura, Anna May Wong and Hsia Moon, to name but a few.
Besides, SIFF continued its collaboration with Jaeger-LeCoultre in restoring classic Chinese films. Over the past five years, ten classics have been restored in succession. This year, SIFF screened John Woo’s cult crime film A Better Tomorrow, whose restoration had begun since last year. The committee will continue its collaboration with Jaeger-LeCoultre in restoring Derek Yee Tung-Shing’s classic slide film C’est la vie, mon chéri, and will screen it at next year’s SIFF.
SIFFORUM: Key Industry Platform for Entry into Chinese Market
SIFF Market and SIFFORUM, two highlights at SIFF in recent years, have become the miniature of Chinese filmdom. As complements to the SIFF panorama and competition sections, they constitute a key industry platform that helps people understand the core of Chinese film industry, converse with key figures in Chinese filmdom and get hold of the key to Chinese market.
The 16 SIFFORUM sessions this year invited senior practitioners from fields like artistic creation, industry setup, film and TV financing, internet thinking and market completion to share their views on a wide range of topics, from conversations on Chinese film policies, the next stop of Chinese films, internet literature, script writing and new talents, film education in and outside China, new directors and new power, to co-production in Shanghai, internet giants’ participation in film industry, I-SIFF Shanghai summit, discussion of Chinese and foreign action films in Shanghai and decoding the Chinese film marketing. Joining the forums were directors like Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Tsui Siu-ming, Li Shaohong, Xu Zheng, Zhang Meng, Han Yan, Li Xiaofeng and Wu Jing, film enterprise CEOs like Bill Kong of EDK Films, Ren Zhonglun of Shanghai Film Group, Wang Zhonglei of Huayi Bros. Media Group, Yu Dong of Bona, Wang Changtian of Enlight Media, Zhang Zhao of Le Vision Pictures, Jerry Ye of Wanda Cultural Industry Group and Wang Haifeng of Filmko Entertainment, senior staff with internet platforms like Alibaba, Tencent, Youku and Tudou, IQIYI, Xiaomi, China Reading Limited, Youzu, as well as foreign filmmakers and crossover elites such as Jeffrey Katzenberg, Rob Cohen, Steve Ransohoff, Stephen Schaff, Steward Ford and Alan Baker.
The 500-plus exhibitors on “SIFF Market” came from the two major areas of TV and film. The market section presented richer contents than usual and encompassed the whole industry chain, including screening, trade, post-production, audio and visual effects, new media, 3D creation, film & TV production base, brand integrated marketing, publicity and release, stunt, investment and financing institutes, legal services, online games and so on. In addition, “SIFF Market” made readjustment to the whole market setup so as to provide a site for negotiation between buyers and sellers.
Release: Assimilating Social Forces and Aggregating Industrial Potential
A batch of projects launched last year has begun to show early results.
On June 15, Shanghai Vancouver Film School released information about its four programs of professional training and announced that its students would take part in the production of sci-fi epic 2054. Huanshangda International Film and TV Industry Area in Zhabei District, which is home to over 80 film enterprises like Kylin Pictures, Pegasus Motion Pictures and Fundamental Films, is currently engaged in all-round cooperation, including student employment, co-productions, orientation training and others.
On June 16, American enterprise Film Finances Inc., which successfully “tested the water” at the 17th SIFF last year and settled in Shanghai Free-Trade Zone in January, held “Completion Guarantee” promotion conference at this year’s SIFF, releasing “completion guarantee” and the various codes and norms in industrial production in the form of “open class”.
On June 18, Leading Digital Post, which is positioning to be at the forefront of the latest sound-production technology, declared its formal operation, which marks China’s ability to be directly linked to Hollywood’s first-class technical personnel and creates a new setup for Chinese films’ post-production. It will give Shanghai film industry a status boost in domestic and international filmdom and will promote the innovation and leap-forward development of Shanghai film industry.
A good number of specialized institutions, traditional film enterprises and internet giants released their Shanghai development plans at SIFF as usual.
ShanghaiTech University and USC School of Cinematic Arts jointly launched a program of screenwriter training. At the initial stage, they will enroll 20 students for a job training period of 15 weeks. The screenwriter training will introduce to China the mature and efficient industrial process of Hollywood’s commercial genre films, elevate the professional accomplishments of domestic screenwriting circles, as well as speed up the discovery, cultivation and reserve of top screenwriting talents that keep pace with the rapid globalization of show business, whom China’s film and TV industry urgently needs for development.
Shanghai Film Group (SFG) revealed its new film list, resolving to reintegrate the resources of the entire industry chain, to focus on three key sectors, namely, “SFG Market”, “SFG Production” and “SFG Set”, and to forge the main force of Chinese film industry.
“Fan Liao & Jingchun Wang Zero Distance to Art Films” was set up in Shanghai. This organization was jointly launched by Liao Fan and Wang Jingchun, two graduates of Shanghai Theatre Academy, as an effort to expand the market of art films and to construct a high-end platform for art films.
With the “One Belt, One Road” national development strategy and framework, Shanghai is positioning to be the center of RMB internationalization. Against this backdrop, China Film International Fund was registered in Shanghai, aiming at the establishment of China’s high-quality new commercial film system and at the integration of a series of international resources so as to connect quality Chinese and foreign enterprises with each other.
As a representative Shanghai-based corporation, Yoozoo held an event with the theme “Revitalizing Shanghai films”, declaring that it would make use of the internet to exploit a brand new business model through projects like Three Body, Goddess Alliance, Lord of Huaxia, One Thousand and One Oddities. At the event it also proposed the slogan “Revitalizing Shanghai films in a not-so-mild manner”.
Shanghai Warrior Culture Media and Dreams of the Dragon Pictures joined hands with German group Action Concept to announce their cooperation of a major project—building in Shanghai a top Asian film base of action and special effects. With an area of 1000 mu (equivalent to 66.7 hectares), the film base has an estimated investment of 1.5 billion RMB, comprising four sections, namely, film and TV shooting, special effects production, film and TV training and last but not least, tourism.
Standing Fast: Regaining a Film Beginner’s Mind
This year’s SIFF focused on film perse, attracting the attention of the world’s filmmakers to Shanghai.
Addressing the opening ceremony, the president of the jury panel and Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev remarked, “I consider myself lucky for having been able to make the motion pictures, or more broadly, art as my lifelong career. That’s because at such a time as today, material is nothing but transient and ephemeral. However, in times past and present, whether people have realized it or not, only art remains invariable, eternal and vitally important to us.” Lisa Lu, Chen Kaige and Tong Dawei, who represent three generations of filmmakers, made an affectionate account of their mind as a film beginner. The opening film I Am Somebody offers an uncommon perspective, as it is the first of its kind to follow with interest the lives of migrant workers in Hengdian World Studios. Likewise, the closing ceremony brought film art into focus and the Golden Goblet Award found its rightful owners.
Jackie Chan Action Movie Week served as a grand showcase of stuntman’s extraordinary performance and the patriotism and cultural pursuit of action film making. It aimed to aggregate superior resources of action movies across the globe and to promote Chinese films and Chinese culture worldwide.