If you go to Melbourne CBD, the abundance of Chinese faces among the streams of walking people probably will impress you a lot. You may also find a number of signs and posters written in Chinese occupying many boards and walls. The Chinatown Cinema screens Chinese films all the time, attracting the Chinese to watch stories about their compatriots. But this Chinese abundance does not appear in the Melbourne International Film Festival. This year, there are 9 Chinese mainland films screened among totally 444 films and events held in the MIFF. Given that China is Australia`s biggest trading partner, this number is by no means huge. Nonetheless, An Elephant Sitting Still(Hu Bo, dir. 2018) is voted as one of the Audience Award Winners: Narrative Features.
The history of Chinese films attending the MIFF is longer than most people think. Although Australia did not establish diplomatic relations with Red China until 1972, the first Chinese mainland film screened in MIFF was in 1956. Chinese Yue Opera film Butterfly Lovers(Sang Hu & Huang Sha, dir. 1953) is the first Chinese film that MIFF brought to Australian audiences. After that, couples of Chinese films landed Melbourne. In 1958, Chinese Silk(Han Hao-jan, dir. 1957) and Spring Comes South the Yangtze(Hao Chung-min & Chang Mengchi, dir. 1957) became the first two Chinese documentaries watched by Australian audience in the MIFF. New Year Sacrifice(Sang Fu, dir. 1956) is the first Chinese feature movie screened in the MIFF(1958). Adventures of a Small Carp(He Yumen, dir. 1958), which had won the silver award in Moscow International Film Festival 1959, is the first Chinese cartoon landing Melbourne. From the 1950s to 1970s, a few Chinese propaganda films were introduced to Australia through MIFF, which was almost unbelievable considering the ideological antagonism between two countries at that time.
With the time comes to the 21st century, more and more Chinese films come to the MIFF. This year, 9 Chinese movies are shown in the MIFF. Golden Lion winner Jia Zhangke`s Ash Is Purest White(dir. 2018) probably is the leading film among the 9. With his signature narrative, Jia`s new movie focuses on the ups and downs of ordinary people in the rapidly changing time. While An Elephant Sitting Still(Hu Bo, dir. 2018) maybe be the most attracting Chinese film: its director tragically committed suicide before the film won Fipresci Prize in Cannes. It is 230 mins long and the director refused to cut any part. The People`s Republic of Desire(Hao Wu, dir. 2018) is a very technological documentary, not only because it is about network live stream, but also the American production team gives it lots of visual effects to make it more interesting. Other films like Angels Wear White(Vivian Qu, dir. 2017), Girls Aways Happy(Mingming Yang, dir. 2018) and The Widowed Witch(Cai Chengjie, dir. 2018) also reflect Chinese current reality with a special concern of female perspective.
In general, although not many, Chinese films in the MIFF are distinctive and interesting. With Chinese cinema`s development, we may expect more and more Chinese films in future MIFF.
Search Result of “China” in MIFF Archive: http://miff.com.au/festival-archive/search?year=&title=china&director=&country=
By Jiaheng Zhang 28260252