Director Jia Zhangke to Launch International Film Festival in Northern China

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Jia Zhangke

Held in the ancient city of Pingyao, the event is being described as China's first boutique cinema event, with festival veteran Marco Muller serving as artistic director.

Chinese director and Cannes favorite Jia Zhangke is launching a new film festival in his hometown in Northern China.

Announced at the China Film Directors Centre in Beijing on Thursday, the inaugural Pingyao "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" International Film Festival will take place in Pingyao Ancient City, a UNCESCO World Heritage site, in China's Shanxi Province on Oct. 19-26. 

Film festival veteran Marco Muller, who has headed the international festivals in Venice, Rome, Beijing and Macao, will serve as the event's artistic director.

The festival's title is a hat tip to Ang Lee's poetic martial arts classic from 2000. Muller and Jia say Lee and Crouching Tiger's writer and producer James Schamus gave their blessing to the naming. A competitive section for new directors will be named "Crouching Tiger," while another key section named "Hidden Dragon" will have a special focus on genre film, the organizers say. 

"I have been living a double life since the very first film I made when I was 27," Jia said in a statement. "On the one hand, I have been telling stories with films that have deep roots in Shanxi and China. Yet on the other hand, I shuttled through all kinds of international film festivals around the world with my films. I constantly wondered during the journey when we could have a film festival in our own country, in our own hometown, to let people look at our culture and our works and to contribute our reviews and opinions to [the] world’s films. Today, my dream has come true.”

Muller described a vision for the event to become Chian's first "boutique festival," showing a limited number of "very special films." The organizers have assembled a selection team to select approximately 40 unique films from around the globe to take part in the festival's first edition.

The event's other co-founder is Wang Huaiyu, while Liang Jiayan has been named CEO and Wan Jiahuan CCO. Consulting on the event is an array of industry veterans of the international film festival circuit, including Marie-Pierre Duhamel, Richard Lormand, Sandra Hebron, Alena Shumakova, Diego Lerer, Deepti Dcunha, Tomita Mikiko, Babak Karimi and Jeremy Chua. 

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