Beijing Film Festival to Screen David Lynch Retrospective

David Lynch

Acclaimed Danish filmmaker Bille August has been named chair of this year's international competition jury.

The Beijing International Film Festival has added some iconic art house fare to its lineup.

The government-backed event announced this week that it will screen a special retrospective of the work of David Lynch during its 7th edition, which runs April 16-23 in the Chinese capital.

Lynch films to be included in the program include Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, The Straight Story, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire — none of which were previously exhibited theatrically in the country. The documentary, David Lynch: The Art Life, by directors Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes and Olivia Neergaard-Holm will also be shown.

Lynch, currently gearing up for the wildly anticipated Showtime reboot of Twin Peaks on May 28, will not attend the festival, organizers said.

Acclaimed Danish filmmaker Bille August will be in Beijing, however. The two-time Palme d'Or winner and one-time Oscar winner has been named head of this year's competition jury. August will lead the international panel that presents the event's Tiantan Award to one of 15 competition films (lineup TBC).

A retrospective of August's work will also be screened at the festival, along with a selection of films from the award-winning actress turned director Sylvia Chang, and Italian cinema icon Michelangelo Antonioni.

Barry Jenkins' Oscar best picture winner Moonlight was tipped to receive its Chinese premiere at the event, but festival organizers tell THR the plan has not received full approval yet.

One slightly politically charged film — Netflix's elephant conservation documentary The Ivory Game — has scored a confirmed out-of-competition slot. The selection of the film comes on the heels of China's recent decision to ban the ivory trade by the end of this year.

Altogether, 500 films will be screened at 30 cinemas across Beijing during the 16-day event, including 2017 Berlin Golden Bear winner On Body and Soul by Ildiko Enyedi and The Other Side of Hope from Aki Kaurismaki, winner of this year's Silver Bear for best director. 

Also screening: a broad selection of classics — including The Leopard (1963), Gone with the Wind (1939), and Doctor Zhivago (1965) — and festival favorites from 2016, such as, Paul Verhoeven’s psychological thriller Elle, Mike Mills' 20th Century Women, Francois Ozon’s Frantz, Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta, Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson and The Unknown Girl from the Dardenne Brothers.

Filmgoers more inclined towards popcorn fare will also have options: the entire The Fast and the Furious and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises are set to screen out of competition.

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