Shanghai fest stumbles at start

Opening film fails to arrive in time for press screening

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Complete Shanghai film fest coverage
Zhang Ziyi joins in China quake aid

SHANGHAI -- Zhang Ziyi, Jackie Chan and Wong Kar Wai opened the 11th Shanghai International Film Festival on Saturday, calling on guests and media to get organized to relieve the victims of China's devastating earthquake.

But the event around them began in disarray as the press screening of the opening film, Chinese documentary "Olympic Dreamers," was canceled when its print failed to arrive. Critics and reporters not told of the cancellation were left waiting near the venue in the rain at 8:30 a.m.

At a later press gathering, Zhang ("Memoirs of a Geisha") said she had helped raise more than $1 million in quake relief at the Festival de Cannes but did not plan a campaign of similar scope in Shanghai, citing the lack of a "proper environment." She did not elaborate.

Martial arts and comedy legend Jackie Chan ("Forbidden Kingdom") said he would travel to Japan in July to raise funds to help the 5 million homeless survivors of the May 12 quake in the Sichuan province.

"At the current stage, our task is to help people rebuild," Chan said.

To this end, Asian New Talent Award juror Hu Xuehua, director of "Prince of Himalaya," said that 50% of the profits of the film about Tibet would be donated to quake relief.

Chan digressed to focus on filmmaking long enough to offer a suggestion about how to grow China's movie industry.

"I would encourage people to go to the movies and would encourage government officials to lower ticket prices, especially in the smaller cities, so people can afford to see more films," Chan said.

Chinese movie tickets typically cost 50-80 yuan ($7-$11), or 10 times more than the cost of the pirated DVDs Chan fights publicly.

At a press gathering to introduce the 16 finalists for the top SIFF prize, the Jin Jue Awards, jury chair Wong Kar Wai ("My Blueberry Nights"), arguably Hong Kong's most famous director, instructed the other jury members not to make any critical statements about finalists who were, he said, chosen from more than 1,000 submissions.

In covering the festival opening, the entertainment reporter for Sina.com, China's largest Web portal, wrote: "It seems that if the Shanghai International Film Festival is truly to become a big international film festival, it has a long way to go."

The festival, which also features a film market, runs through June 22.
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