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The Beijing International Film Festival, twice postponed, has settled on new dates in late September.
The flagship government-backed Chinese festival is typically held in April, but organizers postponed it until August, hoping that the pandemic would have subsided by then to an extent that international guests would be able to attend. But a flareup of Delta variant Covid infections across several Chinese provinces in late summer forced a second delay, as well as the closure of approximately 30 percent of cinemas in the country.
Beijing organizers said this week that they have committed to a new framework for an ambitious in-person program.
The 11th Beijing International Film Festival will now be held Sept. 21-29 at 30 venues around the Chinese capital, with 300 Chinese and international film titles to be shown across more than 1,000 total screenings. As previously announced, Chinese screen star Gong Li has been appointed president of event’s main competition jury, which hands out the Tiantan Awards.
The ninth edition of the Beijing festival was the last instance when the event was held in person during its usual slot, running April 13-20, 2019. In April 2020, cinemas were still shuttered throughout China as a precaution against the pandemic, so organizers pivoted to a hastily assembled online mini-festival, which took place over local streaming giant iQiyi’s platforms in May.
Organizers are holding on to that pandemic-era innovation this year, with iQiyi hosting an online component of the festival from Sept. 15-Oct. 8, which will dramatically expand the event’s reach. The Beijing Radio & Television Station also will coordinate some broadcast screenings on its TV channels for the first time, a new program that has been dubbed, “Living Room Theater.”
The domestically focussed Beijing Film Market will take place in tandem with the festival, featuring the usual program of panel discussions covering topics related to the development of the Chinese film industry.
In-person participation by international film professions remains highly unlikely, however, due to China’s lengthy quarantine requirements for all approved foreign visitors and returning Chinese citizens.
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