Beijing Film Festival to Host Online Mini-Event With Streamer iQiyi

A man wearing a protective facemask as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus  - Beijing - Getty - H 2020

A man wearing a protective facemask as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus walks at a nearly empty shopping mall in Beijing on February 27, 2020. 

The event will run five days beginning on China's Labor Day holiday at the start of May. Organizers are promising a program of "new blockbusters" and fan-favorite classics available for online streaming.

The Beijing International Film Festival, originally scheduled to run in mid-April before the coronavirus pandemic forced its indefinite postponement, will host a mini film event online with the help of leading Chinese streaming service iQiyi.

The program, dubbed the "Spring Online Film Festival," will run for five days beginning on China's May 1 Labor Day holiday, usually one of the biggest box office windows of the year in the country.

Veteran filmmaker Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine) has been invited to serve as one of the event's guest curators, along with actors Tong Dawei (American Dreams in China) and Tan Zhuo (Dying to Survive).

The festival's lineup is still in the works, but organizers say it will span "new blockbusters" and both foreign and local library favorites. More announcements are expected over the coming days. iQiyi will serve as the event's streaming partner, while local microblogging service Weibo has joined the effort as an official social media partner.

News of the online event will come as welcome news to Chinese movie lovers, but it is perhaps yet another blow to China's cinema circuits, which have been closed since late January and are under tremendous financial pressure. There had been optimistic talk in the local industry over the past few weeks about the possibility that the government could use the postponed version of the Beijing festival to start the reopening of Chinese movie theaters and the industry at large.