A film festival is more than just art

The 2009 Melbourne International Film Festival is full of controversy. At this Melbourne International Film Festival, Chinese film directors Jia Zhangke, Tang Xiaobai, and Zhao Liang withdrew their three films to be released at the Melbourne International Film Festival in mid-August 2009. The reason was that the organizers were preparing to broadcast a documentary introducing the leader of the World Uyghur Congress, Rebiya, and even invited her to Melbourne to attend the opening ceremony of the film festival. The Chinese directors decided to protest by withdrawing the film. Despite this, the documentary about Rebiya, called The 10 Conditions of Love, was still on schedule, and she also attended the relevant events.


On July 5 of the same year, a violent incident broke out in Urumqi, Xinjiang. This was a premeditated terrorist activity. More than a thousand people died or injured. At that time, with the media reports and the gradual disclosure of information, this was a criminal violence organized by Rebiya. In fact, after the incident, Rebiya’s three relatives (two children and one younger brother) in China wrote a letter in Uighur, which also pointed out that the incident was led by Rebiya. And her relatives hope she can stop the terrorist act of splitting the country. Chinese ethnic minorities have received a lot of policy support from the government.

The controversial question is why did the film festival show such a documentary? As an art form, the film is one of the most extensive art among the masses. The visual culture it drives has become an important way of mass consumption. In addition, movies often serve as a tool for promoting cultures. The most familiar example of everyone is that Hollywood uses the film to promote and spread the “culture” with the American spirit as the main body. Behind art and business, we will also see these cultures and politics through some movies. The film festival is a channel or a link. “Political correctness” is also an important criterion for film selection in many film festivals. Because once a film festival is labeled “international”, it is impossible to avoid the attention of the world, the media reports. The film festival is a channel or a link. “Political correctness” is also an important criterion for film selection in many film festivals. Because once a film festival is labeled “international”, it is impossible to avoid the attention of the world, the media reports. The host country or city of the festival will also be disseminated by the media.

In summary, for a film festival, all decisions and presentations cannot escape factors other than art. The 2009 Melbourne International Film Festival may indeed have made a less accurate decision. The 2009 Melbourne International Film Festival may indeed have made an incorrect decision. Their slogan was that “everyone’s a critic”. Although everyone has the right to speak. However, as a link and medium, the film festival should be made for the morality of human beings and the conscience of society. Many times, a film festival is more than just art.


By Pengju Yang(Jasper)


Films’ withdrawal from Melbourne festival supported at home — china.org.cn. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.china.org.cn/china/news/2009-07/23/content_18192067.htm

MIFF 2018 | Festival Archive 1952-2017. (2018). Retrieved from http://miff.com.au/festival-archive/year/2009


Die to defend?——The opening film of The 12th FIRST International Film Festival

By Pengju Yang(Jasper)

The FIRST International Film Festival was founded in 2006 and is held every July in Xining, Qinghai Province, China. Due to special geographical factors, the FIRST International Film Festival is also known as “the highest elevation film festival in the world”. However, this film festival is not as high-altitude as it is known, it is dedicated to discovering and promoting young outstanding filmmakers who may be in a low position in the mountain of the film industry. This film festival is not only the two sections of the screening and selection. They offer high-quality movie open classes to all young filmmakers. Besides, they will also build channels for low-cost filmmaking and capital communication.


The opening film of the 12th FIRST International Film Festival is destined to be full of topicality. This film is An Elephant sitting Still (2018) directed by Hu Bo. This is the first film of this talented young director, and this is his last film. The NewYorker’s writer Brody (2018) stated, “An Elephant Sitting Still,” that should become an enduring classic—albeit one that arrives shadowed by tragedy. It’s the sole feature by the director Hu Bo, who, after completing it, committed suicide, at the age of twenty-nine, in October 2017.”


In February of this year, the semi-finished products of “An Elephant Sitting Still”, were exhibited at the Berlin Film Festival and received many praises. Finally, they received the FIPRESCI Prizes. The FIRST international film festival team and the post-production staff worked together for six months and volunteered to help the film complete the post-production work. “Complete” is the biggest controversy of the film. Hu Bo followed the rules of business, and when the company signed the investment to shoot the film, it encountered many obstacles. One of his most insistent is that the production company have rejected his insistence by retaining the version for nearly four hours. FIRST international film festival maintains Hubo’s insistence that the 234-minute version, which is being screened for the first time at Hu Bo’s motherland China, may also be the last time. Despite the topical nature of his death, the duration remains a challenge to market rules.

It’s hard to easily conclude that Hu Bo’s death is to defend his artistic integrity. Only himself can say for sure why he committed suicide. People only know that he had conflicts with the producers because of the funding and the length of the film. What makes people feel sad is that it is because of his suicide that the film has been fully displayed to the world and has been well received at many film festivals.

We can no longer really know why Hu Bo chose to die. This has left many problems for the film industry. Artistic integrity? Money? However, compared to other types of festivals, the film festival looks more like an event inside the film industry, and it is also a shelter for many directors like Hu Bo. If there are more film festivals like The FIRST International Film Festival, add a fresh blood to the film industry based on enthusiasm. Maybe there will be no such sad story like Hu Bo.




Brody, R. (2018). At New Directors/New Films, a Cinema of Civic Life. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/02/at-new-directors-new-films-a-cinema-of-civic-life


Impressions after MIFF experience

The significance of the film festival is not only the economic effects it brings, but also the festival of the film – it brings together outstanding films and filmmakers, rewarding excellence, communicating and promoting the development of the film industry. In addition, in the 21st century, the film festival is more profound, and it can even speak for politics and culture.

The first movie I watched at this festival is “UNDERMINED: TALES FROM THE KIMBERLEY”. Many people say that the film festival is an academic event for filmmakers. In fact, on the day of the “UNDERMINED: TALES FROM THE KIMBERLEY” screening, the audience is more concerned with the information conveyed by the film than the film itself. Everyone talks about the problems of indigenous people in Australia and the future of the country. These problems seem to go beyond the movie itself.

From a political point of view, such a film seems to be a political tool or an educational tool. It has multiple meanings of politics and education. It speaks for a specific group of people and speaks for the country. The festival will expand the influence of the meaning behind such film. From my personal point of view, this is not just an experience of understanding the Melbourne International Film Festival. There are many people from different cultural backgrounds in the theater. Such a film festival seems to be a business card. It attracts more and more films and filmmakers around the world and promotes mutual understanding. The film festival connects films from all over the world. It is a way for audiences around the world to understand each other across national borders.


For movies like “UNDERMINED: TALES FROM THE KIMBERLEY”, its living space is not as big as a commercial movie. A good film festival will help a lot for such a movie. The film festival is the “art laboratory” of this type of film. This kind of film emphasizes the content, emphasizing the deep discussion of the problem, which may be human nature, politics, etc. The film festival is an excellent distribution window and an indispensable breakthrough window for the film industry. In addition, another role is that it will have a profound impact on movie audiences. In this era of rapid consumption, not all viewers are willing to pay attention to niche art films or documentaries like “UNDERMINED: TALES FROM THE KIMBERLEY”. Promoting the advancement of film art requires more than just reform from the supply side. It is equally important to improve the aesthetic level and consumption power of the demand side.

Overall, the first film festival experience made me feel that the film festival is a very comprehensive platform. Not only the benefits of the commercial and film industry but also the filmmakers who make a sound through the film get the attention of the audience. As stated at the beginning, the importance of a film festival is not only reflected in one aspect.

International Film Festival may be a new window for Chinese independent filmmakers

By Pengju Yang(Jasper).

The 2018 Melbourne International Film Festival has many films from all over the world. There are a lot of movies from my country, China, and I am most interested in the film “ASH IS PUREST WHITE” directed by Jia Zhangke. However, the ticket has been sold out when I noticed the movie, but I am still ready to go to the standby queues to try my luck. Jia Zhangke’s films often appear in various international film festivals in the world, which brings me some new thinking.

Jia Zhangke is a very successful director and screenwriter. The interesting thing is that when you see Jia Zhangke’s biography, you will find that he has won many awards and recognition at many international film festivals outside of China. Jia Zhangke’s international recognition is much more than his recognition in China.


                                                             Jia Zhangke

Jia Zhangke’s film is full of Chinese elements, but the Chinese elements in his films are not the giant dragons, history, Great Wall or dumplings. He is concerned about present China. He likes to pay attention to the humanities and social issues of China in the movie. Of course, many problems may be negative. Such negative elements may be contrary to China’s censorship system. In the Chinese film censorship system, it is forbidden to promote negative views, deliberately rendering and exaggerating human ignorance or social darkness. Besides, there is no film grading system in China. Therefore, for some policy reasons, Jia Zhangke has produced four films in eight years, but none of them can be released in China.

In 2013, Jia Zhangke’s film “A TOUCH OF SIN” was submitted to the China Film Review Committee for approval. Jia Zhangke initially claimed that this was a movie that could be approved by China. However, it was not approved at all. Jia Zhangke also avoided this problem in some interviews at the time. No one knows the reason, but many people may have guessed the reason. “A TOUCH OF SIN” is a movie that faces the dark side of the people and the Chinese society. Putting such a theme in China is risky. In the end, Jia Zhangke brought this film to many international film festivals in the world and received many awards and praise.4GLC8nPHn4zCGF7rdKyvMa5lMyj.jpg

                 “A TOUCH OF SIN”——“天注定

Jia Zhangke’s approach may provide a way for Chinese independent filmmakers. If they want to keep their artistic freedom, they can choose to avoid censorship and go directly to find some international film festivals for cooperation or release. In other words, some international film festivals may be a new window for filmmakers who are struggling under China’s censorship. They can get the recognition, criticism, and advice they want at such a film festival instead of repeatedly catering to the censorship system to cut down the shots they want to keep.


Jia Zhangke won the Golden Horse Award(2015 Cannes Film Festival)

However, China has become one of the world’s largest box office income countries. It is still difficult for us to ignore China’s huge box office revenue. If Chinese filmmakers are safely making movies in the censorship system, they may get huge benefits. However, it seems that if Chinese filmmakers want to preserve the integrity of the art, they must carefully choose the subject matter of the film or send their film to a foreign film festival.



Frater, P., & Frater, P. (2018). China’s Jia Zhangke to Receive French Honor at Cannes. Retrieved from https://variety.com/2015/film/asia/chinas-jia-zhangke-to-receive-french-honor-at-cannes-1201453421/

MIFF 2018 | Film. (2018). Retrieved from http://miff.com.au/program/film/ash-is-purest-white