British Film Institute to Mount China Season in 2014

9:46 AM PST 12/18/2013 by Stuart Kemp
Courtesy of CineAsia
Feng Xiaogang

The U.K. organization will partner with the Toronto Film Festival to host a four-month season of movies from the silent era to modern classics.

LONDON – The British Film Institute said it would host a "major focus on China" in 2014 including a season of work by film director Feng Xiaogang, often described as "China’s Steven Spielberg," at the BFI Southbank, the organization's movie theater and event complex in the British capital.

The BFI said it is also planning to stage an extended four-month China season, in partnership with the Toronto International Film Festival, which includes previously unseen rarities of the silent era from 1903-1960’s such as The Goddess (1934) to modern masterpieces including Farewell My Concubine (1993) and In the Mood For Love (2000).

Rarities of the silent era will also include Yuan Muzhi’s Street Angel (1937), a major hit on its release in Shanghai.

The BFI said its "mega season" promises to showcase more than 80 films and "will trace the shared cultural and historical connections between the cinemas of the Mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan."

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The season will be divided into five distinct strands running over subsequent months until the end of September: Golden Age; A New China; Swordsmen, Gangsters and Ghosts; New Waves; and New Directions.

The China focus comes as the BFI and the U.K. government are poised to finalize and officially sign a co-production treaty and recently renewed cultural ties between the two nations.

The BFI also said 2014 would see a fresh project entitled "Things to Come: Science Fiction," which follows this Gothic campaign in 2013 and the Hitchcock blockbuster projects that has been a big part of the BFI's work for the past last two years.

Science Fiction film will be presented over four months (October 2014-January 2015) with a historical and thematic exploration of the best of this perennially popular and visionary genre as revealed through three dynamic themes: Tomorrow’s World, Contact! and Altered States.

Screenings of key sci-fi films, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Alien (1979), The Planet of the Apes (1968) and the eerily prophetic British classic The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961), are already scheduled to unspool.

Alongside its BFI Southbank program, the BFI pledged to ensure audiences all over the U.K. can access major projects via the startup BFI Player VOD service, DVD releases and select U.K.-wide theatrical releases.

BFI creative director Heather Stewart said: "BFI style, we are approaching our Science Fiction blockbuster in unexpected ways in 2014. Of course it will incorporate space invasion, intergalactic wars and aliens, but we will be going beyond to explore worlds of imagination and imagined worlds, films that portray fantastical futures but that speak to our very earthly deepest fears and dreams."

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