Shanghai Film Fest: Scores of Celebrities Set to Attend Opening Ceremony

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman and Jiang Wen will receive outstanding contribution awards at the 17th edition of the event.

More than 400 international and local film celebrities will descend on China’s financial hub and most cosmopolitan city on June 14 for the opening ceremony of the 17th Shanghai International Film Festival.

Nicole Kidman will receive an outstanding contribution award from Hugh Grant and John Woo at the opening ceremony, while artist Qin Yi will honor Jiang Wen with the Outstanding Contribution to Chinese Film Award.

Among other names expected at the opening ceremony are Kirsten Dunst, John Cusack, Hayden Christensen, who features in Nicholas Powell's Outcast, Wolf Totem director Jean-Jacques Annaud and Yukisada Isao, as well as Korean stars Rain, Son Tae-yeong and Song Seung-heon.

Jackie Chan, Nicholas Tse, Tony LeungNing Hao, Li Bingbing and Gao Yuanyuan are among the local talent set to attend.

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The introduction of the Beijing film festival four years ago means Shanghai no longer dominates the mainland Chinese scene, but its international dimension has stayed high amid ever increasing interest in the world’s second biggest film market.

Chinese industryites attending include Liu Chunning, CEO of Alibaba Digital Media Group, Bona CEO Yu Dong, China Lion CEO Jiang Yanming, Ren Zhonglun, president of Shanghai Film Group and Jeffrey Chan, CEO of Distribution Workshop.

Overseas executives include Joe Aguilar, head of production at Oriental Dreamworks, Bennet Pozil from East West Bank and Ryan Kavanaugh from Relativity.

The film festival and the accompanying TV festival had “made great a contribution to promote Sino-foreign cultural exchanges and to enhance the influence of Chinese culture, explore new forces, strengthen Shanghai’s ‘soft power’ and promote economic and social transformation and development,” said Tian Jin, deputy director of the Shanghai State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

The festival will open with the restored classic Two Stage Sisters, a film from 1964 about two actresses in pre-revolutionary China, and it will close with Transformers: Age of Extinction.

There are 15 films competing for the Golden Goblet, including Brad Anderson’s Eliza Graves, a psychological thriller from Nu Image/Millennium featuring Kate Beckinsale and Jim Sturgess, Yoon Hong-seung’s Korean action thriller The Target, Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden’s The Sacred Arrow and Aaron Wilson’s WW2 jungle survival story, Canopy.

Also in competition is John Carney’s Begin Again, Bangladeshi director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s Ant Story and Volker Schlöndorff’s Diplomatie.

Tom Waller’s The Last Executioner, about the last executioner in Thailand, will have its world premiere in competition, and the Golden Goblet will also feature Little England (Mikra Anglia), a Greek film directed by Pantelis Voulgaris and the coming-of-age drama Maiko wa Lady by the Japanese director Masayuki Suo.

Predestination by Michael and Peter Spierig, Elle l'adore by Jeanne Herry and the Iranian film Snow, directed by Mehdi Rahmani, also feature.

The Uncle Victory, by Zhang Meng, who directed the popular The Piano in a Factory, will compete for the Golden Goblet, as will The Woods Are Still Green by the German director Marko Nabersnik.

The jury at the fest will be led by Chinese actress Gong Li, the first time a woman has headed the jury and reflecting the festival’s theme of women in cinema.

She is joined by Korean director Im Sang-soo, British director Sally Potter, Danish director Lone Scherfig, Chinese director Liu Jie, Iranian actor Peyman Moaadi and Japanese director Shunji Iwai.

More than 300 films will be screened during the Film Panorama, with nearly 1,000 screenings across 35 cinemas, the organizers said, and tickets have sold out for most categories, including Japanese Films Week, Tribute to Masters, and 4K Restoration.

The Shanghai festival is scheduled to run from June 14 - June 22.

Twitter: @cliffordcoonan