Beijing International Film Festival to Feature Documentary Competition

Major local documentarians are being left out of the Beijing showcase.

BEIJING – Just days ahead of the start of the First Beijing International Film Festival, organizers announced on Tuesday an additional part of the program, a contest for Best Documentary Short called “See the world through films.”

The 20 non-fiction films, selected to compete in the newest section added to the six-day event beginning Saturday, come from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

Many competition entrants are not so short and most appear more than a year old. Few of the Chinese entrants come from a group of activist documentary filmmakers such as Zhao Liang, whose films Petition and Crime and Punishment address current day social ills in China from outside the state-sanctioned filmmaking process and have not been widely screened.

Zhao does have a film among the titles selected for the BJIFF, however, a film about AIDS sponsored by feature film director Gu Changwei, whose latest feature, Life Is A Miracle, has Zhang Ziyi and Aaron Kwok starring in a narrative about HIV.

Zhao’s companion documentary Together, which showed earlier this year at Berlin, comes in at 84 minutes and tells the story of three HIV-infected characters, Tao Tao, teacher Liu, old Xia, trying to remove the stigma that surrounds HIV and helping to educate the country about its survivors.

Also among the films selected is the 52-minute film Fall In Love With Shakespeare, a 2009 documentary from Chinese director Zhu Chunguang about where the teachings of Confucius and the most famous poet of the English-language cross paths.

The 72-minute 2009 documentary Dreams In Copenhagen from Danish director Max Kestner shows us how tangible objects are an integral part of everyday life and reveals to the audience his country’s capital and the people who love it.

Plank, a 2009 Dutch film by Billy Pols takes just 15 minutes to tell the story of 15-year-old Nasim, the Moroccan-born child of a single-mother whose skateboard turns his city, Rotterdam, into a huge playground and inspires him to win prizes to dedicate to his mother’s hard work at getting them out of poverty.

Hip-hop Frenzy, a 2008 documentary from Taiwan director Su Zhexian takes 80 minutes to explore the dance craze that’s obsessed the film’s subject for 17 years and also reveals a group of high school students dancing in the Taipei streets.

Sari Stories is Briton Sue Sudbury’s 24-minute story about a group of young women turning their video cameras on daily life in rural India, offering an unprecedented view of the child labor, child marriage and child abuse common there.