SMG quake shorts a call to 'faith,' 'strength'

Chinese temblor killed 70,000

A series of short films about China's recent deadly earthquake made by prominent directors including Chen Kaige will be unveiled Wednesday by the Shanghai Media Group.

SMG, which will distribute the series for free, said it is meant to arouse China's "national spirit" as well as the "faith" and "strength of mind that allows us to endure pain and adversity."

The series is Dubbed "Action 1/2008." SMG said in its description of the project that its name is meant to remind viewers that every event in 2008 -- a year in which China has faced criticism over human rights, censorship and pollution -- is important to each of China's 1.3 billion citizens.

Echoing the series "11'09'01 - September 11," each roughly three-minute film will address some aspect of the May 12 earthquake that killed 70,000 people and left 4.8 million homeless in southwest China's Sichuan province.

The films, by Chen ("The Promise"), Gu Changwei ("Peacock"), Wang Xiaoshuai ("Beijing Bicycle") and others, are donated works of art, SMG said.

Stanley Kwan's "Petals" is one of the shorts that will be featured. The Hong Kong director's contribution focuses on a Chinese woman who is delivering her child at the moment the deadly May 12 quake hits -- only she's not in Sichuan. Kwan ("Everlasting Regret") said that the children killed in the collapse of shoddily built Sichuan schools were much on his mind when he wrote and directed the Cantonese-language film for the series.

SMG is taking "Action 1/2008" to AFM in November and is in talks with participating directors about making a follow-up series in 2009 to raise disaster relief funds.

The Hollywood Reporter will serve as a co-sponsor for the series and will make the short films available on THR.com and THR.com/Asia.

-- Karen Chu contributed to this report from Hong Kong.
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