Published: 09:46, April 6, 2024 | Updated: 14:53, April 6, 2024
Curtain set to rise on Beijing film festival
By Xu Fan

The main poster for the upcoming 14th Beijing International Film Festival is unveiled during a news conference on March 28, 2024. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

As an annual event bridging filmmakers in China and abroad, the 14th Beijing International Film Festival will be held from April 18-26, with submissions for its top honor, the Tiantan Award, reaching a new high.

According to the organizers, 4,273 movies were submitted to the festival. The final nominated 15 movies were selected from 1,509 feature-length movies from 118 countries and regions.

Three Chinese films were shortlisted in the final nominations: Gold or Shit, which depicts a young man encountering an unexpected twist in life; I Love You, to the Moon, and Back, a romantic story about two lovers working in different cities; and Strangers When We Meet, a poignant tale about a man released from a 27-year prison sentence who endeavors to find a wife.

Other nominated films include A Real Job (France), A Whole Life (Austria and Germany), All the Long Nights (Japan), and Death Is a Problem for the Living (Finland).

The jury panel for the Tiantan Award was revealed, with Serbian director Emir Kusturica — one of the most distinguished European directors active since the mid-1980s — serving as the jury president.

Consisting of seven members, the jury panel includes Brazilian animation director Carlos Saldanha, Australian sound editor David White and Jessica Hausner, a female director from Austria.

Three A-list stars well-known to the Chinese audience have also joined the jury, Chinese-American actor Kris Phillips, also known as Fei Xiang, whose recent blockbuster is Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms; Zhu Yilong, renowned for hits such as Lost in the Stars; and actress Ma Li, celebrated for comedies like Goodbye Mr Loser.

The jury panel for the festival's top honor, the Tiantan Award. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

For the first time since the annual festival's launch in 2011, the Diplomat Film Season — a segment intended to enhance international exchange and cooperation by showing high-quality films — will be introduced this year. In a bid to enhance its global appeal, the festival plans to extend invitations to diplomats from the embassies of Brazil, Seychelles, the Republic of Gabon, and ASEAN countries, in China, as well as representatives from the countries with films nominated for the Tiantan Award.

Huo Zhijing, director of the Beijing Municipal Film Administration, said that Brazil will be the guest of honor at this year's festival, to mark the 50th anniversary of China-Brazil diplomatic relations this year.

As one of the top highlights drawing many die-hard movie fans, more than 240 Chinese and foreign films will be shown in 27 theaters and around 750 screenings in Beijing and neighboring Tianjin municipality and Hebei province, some of which have not been widely released in or officially imported to the Chinese mainland. The most anticipated include the American sci-fi film Blade Runner 2049, director Zhang Yimou's The Story of Qiu Ju, and Spanish film The Spirit of the Beehive.

As a platform for the local audience to gain insight from prestigious filmmakers, the festival will hold three master classes. These will be respectively given by Kusturica, president of the Tiantan Award jury, who has won the Cannes Film Festival's top honor, the Palme d'Or, twice; Hong Kong director Ann Hui, a recipient of the Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement at the Venice International Film Festival; and actress-director Joan Chen, who shot to international fame with her role in the 1987 epic The Last Emperor.

Additionally, four themed forums will delve into hot topics in the industry, from raising investment to using cutting-edge technology, such as artificial intelligence.

Yu Junsheng, deputy director of the Publicity Department of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, said that the festival seeks to boost mutual learning between civilizations, and enhance Beijing's soft power and cultural influence.