Beijing Jury President Rob Minkoff: "Film Brings Us Together"

Rob Minkoff -Premiere of "Rabbit & Rogue" during the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival - Getty-H 2018
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With the U.S.-China trade war looming in the background, the Beijing festival's international jury members emphasized the value of cross-border ties and collaboration in today's film industry.

The U.S.-China trade war may be raging unabated, but the international jury at the 9th Beijing Film Festival struck a distinctly globalist tone Thursday when meeting the media for the first time.

Jury president Rob Minkoff, best known for co-directing Disney's The Lion King, noted that the fest was established a decade ago with the primary goal of bringing attention to China's growing film industry, but that the event has "a very global vision."

"What's interesting is that this is an international competition with films from all over the world, from filmmakers with very different concerns and sensibilities," said Minkoff. "Film is something that ties all of us together, and to have the opportunity to celebrate that here in this city, which is the heart of the Chinese film industry, is a wonderful opportunity."

A total of 261 films are set to be screened over the course of the festival, which is set to kick off Saturday night with the world premiere of the Chinese-Kazak period drama The Composer.

Joining Minkoff on the six-person jury, which will decide this year's winners of Beijing's Tianjin Awards, is Russian filmmaker Sergei Dvortsevoy, whose most recent film Ayka earned the best actress award at Cannes last year for Samal Yeslyamova.

Dvortsevoy used his remarks to further emphasize the value of cross-border collaboration. "Now, it's almost impossible to make films with financing and support from only one market," he said, explaining that Ayka involved five different co-production partners, including China's JuBen Pictures.

"My experience with my Chinese partners was great," he said, adding that "it's obvious that you must collaborate internationally" in today's industry.

Fellow juror Simon West, director of the 1997 action pic Con Air, addressed a question about the jury's aesthetic criteria by saying that he would approach the competition titles like "any ordinary viewer who bought a ticket and walked into the cinema off the street." ?

"The only criteria for us is whether it's a good film or a bad film," added West. "I'm going to be watching as an audience member, not a professional," he added.

The other members of Beijing's jury this year are Chinese director Cao Baoping, Hong Kong screen icon Carina Lau, Iran's Majid Majidi and Chilean helmer Silvio Caiozzi.

The festival, which opened over the weekend, is taking place at venues across the Chinese capital through Saturday.