Shanghai Festival to Open With WWII Epic 'The Eight Hundred,' Wu Jing to Serve as Ambassador
Notably, given Donald Trump's ongoing U.S.-China trade war, not a single film from North America is included in the Chinese festival's main competition sections this year.
The Shanghai International Film Festival, China's most established cinema event, has unveiled the opening titles and competition selection for its 2019 edition.
The festival will kick off June 15 with a double bill of Chinese WWII epic The Eight Hundred and local drama Beautiful Voyage from filmmaker Zhang Jiarui.
Landing The Eight Hundred as an opener is something of a coup for the Shanghai event. The film, produced by Huayi Brothers with a lavish budget of over $80 million, is the first Chinese action film shot entirely on Imax cameras, and it is expected to become one of the country's biggest event movies of the summer when it opens wide July 5.
Chinese action hero Wu Jing, star of Chinese mega-blockbuster Wolf Warrior 2 and The Wandering Earth, will bring the star power to Shanghai's opening red carpet, serving as the event's official 2019 ambassador. English actor Tom Hiddleston, already well known to local filmgoers as Loki from the Avengers franchise, will help wrap up the festivities by attending the closing ceremony on June 24.
Other stars slated to walk the carpet and participate in SIFF events include X-Men star Nicholas Hoult, Milla Jovovich, Taiwanese actor Chen Bolin, Japanese stars Ayaka Miyoshi and Mao Inoue, and a slew of Chinese talent, including actresses Yao Chen, Ni Ni, Deng Jiajia, Zhou Dongyu and Yong Mei.
Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, winner of the 2014 Cannes Palme d’Or, is presiding over the jury that will decide the winners of SIFF's annual Golden Goblet Awards.
Ceylan is joined on the jury by Chinese actress Zhao Tao, Italian director Paolo Genovese (whose 2016 film Perfect Strangers was remade as Chinese thriller Kill Mobile, earning $93 million last year), Russia’s Aleksey German Jr. (director of the period biopic Dovlatov), Indian hitmaker Rajkumar Hirani (3 Idiots), Mexican producer Nicolas Celis (Roma) and Chinese actor Wang Jingchun (winner of this year's Berlin Silver Bear for best actor).
Shanghai's competition lineup includes a broad sampling of world cinema, with a discernible emphasis on filmmaking from countries located along Chinese president Xi Jinping's geopolitical Belt and Road infrastructure and soft-power project. Notably, given the ongoing U.S.-China trade war and controversy over Canada's arrest of a top executive from Huawei, not a single film from North America made Shanghai's selection this year — a sharp contrast from recent years.
Main competition titles include Russian director Pavel Lungin's war drama Leaving Afghanistan (also known as Brother), Iranian film Castle of Dreams, German family drama Many Happy Returns, Chinese crime film Vortex and Mexican actor Gael García Bernal's directorial debut Chicuarotes, which recently bowed at Cannes (the full SIFF competition lineup is below).
The festival's Asian New Talent Awards, which honor emerging film professionals from the region, will be handed out by a jury headed by Chinese star director Ning Hao (Crazy Alien).
SIFF's documentary and animation sections (see lineups below), meanwhile, will be assessed by juries led by Russian director Viktor Kossakovsky (Aquarela) and Irish filmmaker Tomm Moore (The Breadwinner, The Secret of Kells), respectively.
Altogether, SIFF will screen approximately 500 films across its key competition categories, country specific sidebars and historical retrospectives. Festival organizers said they received more than 3,900 film submissions from 112 countries and regions this year. Local state media were keen to note that nearly half of the applications, over 1,800 titles from 53 countries, came from countries and territories participating in Xi's Belt and Road Initiative.
Below is the Shanghai festival's lineup.
Main Competition Section
BROTHERHOOD (Russia), by Pavel Lungin
CASTLE OF DREAMS (Iran), by Reza Mirkarimi
CHICUAROTES (Mexico), by Gael García Bernal
THE GREAT SPIRIT (Italy), by Sergio Rubini
INHALE-EXHALE (Georgia/ Russia/ Sweden),by Dito Tsintsadze
LANE 4 (Brazil), by Emiliano Cunha
LITTLE NIGHTS, LITTLE LOVE (Japan), by Rikiya Imaizumi
MANY HAPPY RETURNS (Germany), by Carlos A. Morelli
PACARRETE (Brazil), by Allan Deberton
THE RETURN (China), by QIN Hailu
ROSA (Italy/ Slovenia), by Katja Colja
SHYRAKSHY: GUARDIAN OF THE LIGHT (Kazakhstan), by Yermek Tursunov
SPRING TIDE (China), by YANG Lina
TREES UNDER THE SUN (India) by Dr. Biju
VORTEX (China), by Jacky Gan
Documentary Film Section
BRIDGES OF TIME (Latvia/ Lithuania/ Estonia), By Kristīne Briede and Audrius Stonys
THE FOURTH KINGDOM (Spain), by Adán Aliaga and Àlex Lora
IT'S ALL GOOD (Venezuela / Germany) by Tuki Jencquel
MUTE FIRE (Colombia), by Federico Arteaga
THE SOUND OF DALI (China), by ZHANG Yang
Animation Film Section
DILILI IN PARIS (France / Belgium / Germany), by Michel Ocelot)
LOTTE AND THE LOST DRAGONS (Estonia), by Janno Põldma
LOUIS AND LUCA – MISSION TO THE MOON (Norway), by Rasmus A. Sivertsen
RIDE YOUR WAVE (Japan), by Masaaki Yuasa
SPYCIES (China), by ZHANG Zhiyi and Guillaume Ivernel