The 11th Shanghai International Film Festival had a rocky start on Saturday, when the opening film, Olympic Dreamers, failed to arrive, leaving confused media stranded in the rain after an unusually brief opening ceremony.
Critics from around the world have noted that the event has less energy this year, a change from a decade-long trend of increasing prestige. Chinese organizers point to the earthquake as the major reason the festival’s marketing (all non-quake related media was barred for several days after May 12, the organizers seriously considered calling off the festival) and glamour (no red carpet, just a path of hearts Shanghai Film Group president Ren Zhonglun says represents “love and concern for the disaster victims”) have been toned down. But does that explain the apparent lack of organization?
Equally unsettling, if less obvious, was jury chair Wong Kar Wai’s apparent public instructions to fellow jury members: don’t criticize contenders for the SIFF’s top prize, the Jin Jue Award. Wong made his comments at a press conference introducing the finalists, a group he said was chosen from over 1,000 submissions.
High-profile festival-goers may not be having too much discussion about the films themselves anyways — most of the dialogue so far has been related to the earthquake, with the exception of a brief Jackie Chan rant against pirated DVDs. But regardless of what the bigshots are talking (or not talking) about, there are definitely some good films on the table. Check out screenings of American hits American Gangster and Across the Universe, or go to any one of the screenings of the 16 Jin Jue finalists (a list available here). Don’t trust our recommendations? Check out our last post on how to get the complete public schedule.