Jury members (from left to right) Chinese-American producer Terrence Chang, American actress Heather Graham, French director Jean Jacques Annaud, Iranian director Rakhshan Banietemad, Chinese actress Lee Bingbing and Chinese director Zhang Yang meet the press on Saturday in Shanghai. [Pang Li/China.org.cn]|
A fantasy extravaganza inspired by a Chinese ghost story opened the 15th edition of Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) on Saturday following a star-studded red carpet session and an extravagant opening gala.
"Painted Skin: The Resurrection" is a sequel to the 2008 blockbuster "The Painted Skin" which was reported to rake in 250 million yuan (US$39.3 million) in ticket sales revenue in China. The sequel, featuring the return of some of the original actors including Zhao Wei, Chen Kun and Zhou Xun and adding the increasingly prominent actress Yang Mi to its cast, discusses a cliché topic: which matters more for love, good looks or a true heart?
The picture, directed by rising young director Wuershan, varies visually from breathtakingly beautiful to scary to violent. However, its well-done cinematography, heart-melting soundtracks and fancy costumes cannot redeem its paper-thin characters and incoherent story.
The one and a half hour red carpet session was surely star-dazzling with 400-strong filmmakers from China and abroad showing up, according to the organizers. They included Chinese heavyweights such as Feng Xiaogang, See-Yuen Ng and Tony Leung, and Hollywood stars like Aaron Eckhart, Famke Janssen and Heather Graham. Fans could not help screaming from time to time when they saw their idols.
An opening show followed with singing, dancing and award presenting. Hong Kong veteran actor Chow Yun-Fat was given the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Chinese Cinema. After accepting a trophy from his peer, Jackie Chan, Chow thanked his producers and audience, whom he referred to as his "bosses". "Without the supports of my bosses, I could not live this long," he said jokingly.
The Outstanding Achievement Award went to Hollywood accomplished producer Mike Medavoy. The 71-year-old has produced over 300 films during his decades-spanning career, of which 7 won the Oscar for best picture . The Jewish producer said that Shanghai gave his parents shelter during the Second World War. Born in Shanghai, he referred to the city as his "roots." He said that it was the films he saw in his childhood in Shanghai that made him interested in filmmaking.
A co-founder of the SIFF, Chinese director, Wu Yigong, 74, accepted the Lifetime Chinese Film Achievement Award. Greatly touched by this honor, Wu gave his poetic definition of cinema while addressing the audience. He said: "The cinema is a dream. It is colorful, diverse and inclusive. It never refuses anyone. If you want to approach or appreciate it, it will never reserve itself to tell you what the world used to be or may have been, or tell you what life should be or should not be like."
French world-renown director Jean Jacques Annaud will preside over a seven-member jury to choose winners of the coveted Golden Goblet Awards from 17 competition entries. Hungarian film director Béla Tarr dropped out of the jury at the last minute because of his unhealed broken ribs. He was replaced by his younger peer György Pálfi.
The nine-day event will show about 300 films, and feature various discussion panels and film trade markets.
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