The political impacts of the 58th Melbourne International Film Festival

In 2009, Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) released a documentary “The ten conditions of love” which brought a huge political argument for itself. At first, the documentary promoted itself as ” a brief history of the Uighurs’ love and sacrifice” (the Uighurs region which lives in the northwestern of China -Xinjiang region). However, the documentary has the strong political position which cannot be ignored- it promotes the independence of Uighurs region in Xinjiang.

 

However, as a local who grew up in Xinjiang, I think it is necessary to introduce the historical background of the “7.5” violence attack of Xinjiang capital city Urumqi.

“The violence left 197 people dead, most of the members of China’s majority Han ethnic group. And Rebiya Kadeer, the violence leader of China’s Uighur ethnic group who planned and implement the blood attack (Ramzy, 2009). “

 

For me, the things worth to pay attention that MIFF promoted itself “ no political position” but it stands the political side at the Rebiya Kadeer clearly. To be specific,  MIFF insist to release the documentary and invited Rebiya Kadeer to join the event; the festival organizer ignored the against voice from China aspect- firstly, they refused the demanded of the Chinese government: removing The 10 Conditions of Love from the festival’s program; besides, there has complete blank of Chinese film in 58th MIFF. Three Chinese directors withdraw their film from the MIFF to protest the inclusion of a documentary about a Uighur activist. It includes Zhangke Jia’s film Cry Me A river, Baixiao Tang’s film The perfect life and Liang Zhao’s film Petition. In addition, another four Chinese-language films from Hong Kong and Taiwan were withdrawn, their directors saying “the festival had become too politicized (Ramzy, 2009). ”

 

For that, the Festival Director Richard Moore only apologized for the absence of mainland films. To be honest, I cannot see the respect of the national diversity and culture diversity from 58th MIFF which they positioned and promoted itself. In fact, the absence of Chinese film is seen as not the big deal of the event from the response of festival organizers.

 

It enables me to consider a question that the film festival did bring the political impacts to the audiences. Personally, I would not watch the documentary cause I know the truth behind this documentary. I believed the film was factually inaccurate. But for the international audiences who watched the film- they absolutely affected by the documentary and might give their compassion to the Rebiya Kadeer. Thus, in my view, movie selection plays an important role in the film festival: it decides the content input of audiences. As Tyson (2017) argued that “the film selection potentially to incite divergent. It affects the political expression, dialogue and participation by film releasing”.

 

Overall, the 58th MIFF is a significant example which proves that the film festival brings the affection to the audience, especially the political impacts. More importantly, as an international film festival, MIFF should consider about its global influence seriously and treat the movie from the different country fairly.

 

Reference:

Ramzy, A (2009), ‘ Chinese Directors Protest Film on Uighur’s Kadeer’, http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1912617,00.html

http://miff.com.au/festival-archive/film/13491/10-conditions-of-love-the

 

SIFF: a business card exchange film festival

In China, almost famous film festival such as Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF), Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) and Qingdao International Film Festival(QIFF) all can be conducted as “the business exchange card film festival “. As Dina (2017)’s view, this type of festival is “about the straight market talk”, more ” being in love with power, prestige and glamour”. On the other word, the festival is driven by the “ west who salivate over the huge Chinese market”.

 

SIFF is an excellent example to introduce this typical festival. Instead of the movie, it is more about the business connection with the globe. Actually, the original purpose of SIFF was to promote Shanghai as a “world city” image, which contributes to maintaining the public relation with western. It is not hard to understand, SIFF owned its “add value”: it is a place to exchange the business card, socialization and build the global connection between China and Western. “it is where Westerners can put their newly printed two-sided English–Chinese business card into the hands of business-suited Chinese officials (Dina, 2017).”

 

As “the business card exchange festival”, the stakeholders, industry player and distributor play the important role in the event. To be specific, SIFF is a state-owned enterprises project which owned by the Shanghai Film Group. With the development, it expands to the Shanghai Media and Entertainment Group. Except for the well-known directors and stars, the film investors are the vital guests at the festival. They are almost famous Chinese entrepreneurs  and “usually members of the new class of moneyed film industry executives, some rich enough to make it onto the Forbes list or the gossip pages of the Cannes chronicles (Dina, 2017).”

 

In addition, SIFF can be seen as a “reputation festival” cause it requires the high-profile media coverage. The event always cooperates with “the heavy artillery mainstream news media”. Thus, the glamor and celebrity are the important element to demonstrate in the festival – more attendance of international movie stars which indicates more gaining of global attraction.  Especially, it can reflect on the red carpet event- the opening and closing of the film festival is the most important promoting chance. They are significant live shoots are reported by every mainstream media competitively. As an international film festival, SIFF always invites the global well-known movie stars to join the event.

“In 2013, the same year that Tom Hooper headed the jury, Jessica Chastain and Helen Mirren graced the red carpet, amongst others. The next year, Natalie Portman appeared at the closing ceremony, and Nicole Kidman was in town with her film, Grace of Monaco (Berry, 2017).”

Through the observation of SIFF, I know the reason why the business card exchange film festival is popular in China. There is no denying that SIFF not only a platform to export Chinese movie to the globe but also a tool to establish the economic connection to the world.

 

 

Reference:

Dina, I (2017), Yingying, Zhenzhen, and Fenfen? China at the Festivals

Berry, C (2017), Shanghai and Hong Kong: A Tale of Two Festivals

 

The Beijing Queer Film Festival research: export the cultural diversity in a flexible way

“China’s economy is flying sky high, but its culture is crawling on the ground. Diversity is a necessary precondition for cultural development, and the Beijing Queer Film Festival exists to uphold China’s diversity and to plant the seeds necessary for a culturally rich tomorrow. We believe that day will come,” says Jenny Wu Man and Li Dan, codirectors of The 2014 Beijing Queer Film Festival.

 

The Beijing Queer Film Festival (BJQFF) founded in 2001, which is an independent film festival in mainland China (Bao, 2017). Until 2014, the event has been held eight editions. Actually, BJQFF significant contributes to advocating Chinese culture diversity, especially, the queer culture. It forces the Chinese government to release the banning of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) topic.

 

Focus on the movie content of BJQFF, instead of offering the solutions to support Chinese LGBT community, majority Chinese queer films focus on shaping the dark emotion in the movie – alone, lonely and helpless always fulfill the film.

 

In addition, compared with the traditional film festival, the BJQFF’s operating as an unusual way because of the government pressure: instead of the However, compared with the traditional film festival, the BJQFF’s operating as an unusual way because of the government pressure: instead of public cinema, the organiser display the film at different venus: the book club, the restaurant and even the train. For instance, 2011 BJQFF was asked to stop the activity by The Chinese Cultural Commission and police office. “The commission said the sexual minorities were not permitted for public screening as they had not passed film censorship. The police emphasized that the festival was illegal and must be cancelled” (Bao, 2017). Thus, the organizer has to change their plan: to display the film at the restaurant, café and teahouse. Learned from the last lesson, BJQFF organizer decided to display the film at public transportation during two years: ” we display the movie on a bus during the festival’s sixth edition in 2013, and on a train during the seventh edition in 2014 (Bao, 2017).” BJQFF breaks the limitation of film display at the cinema)and exports the queer film culture in a flexible way.

 

Although suffering the stringent political pressure, BJQFF still puts a lot of effort to operate the event continually. For example, it invites the international guest to join the festival such as western journalists and diplomats, which dramatically boosts the international influence of the activity. Moreover, BJQFF successfully also hold the event on the Dutch and American embassies. Thus, BJQFF becomes “the international diplomatic event”(Bao, 2017). Because of aimed to “respecting and advocating diversity” and continue to put the effort on it, BJQFF offers a channel to Chinese audiences to get close to the cultural diversity.

 

 

Reference:

Bao, H, 2017, Queer as Catachresis: The Beijing Queer Film Festival in Cultural Translation

 

The Melbourne International Film Festival: more than a fantasy dream presenting, also a real-world illustration

This is the first time for me to join The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), more exactly, which is the first attempt to experience the real film festival. To be honest, MIFF subverts my thoughts of the film festival: from a fantasy world presenting to a realistic human focus demonstration. To be specific, according to my Chinese background, almost every well-known film festival in China all aimed to create a “gorgeous visual carnival” to grab people’s attention. Such as gathering the hottest movie stars, the famous film directors and the most controversial movie theme.

 

Personally, instead of film watching, many of them are more like a grand fans meeting -the majority seats are occupied by a certain fans group, which becomes a very common situation in Chinese film festival. There are only a few people truly pay attention to the movie content. Thus, before I went to MIFF, my brain was fulfilled by all the shining elements of the film festival: the red carpet, the movie star and the passionate fans group. But the reality is that I am highly impressed by the brilliant documentary which named Undermined: Tales from The Kimberley much more than the other stuff.

 

The documentary represents the living struggle of Kimberley Aboriginal people.  For example, the original living environment, unadvanced education and the heavy conflicts between the white police and the local community. To be specific, the main character of this movie is the only indigent who accepts the high education in the community. After the high school study, he fits into the western culture and urban lifestyle – even date with the white girl. However, he decides to give up the chance of living in the urban city; back to his hometown. And finally, he marriages with an aboriginal girl and tries finding a way to contribute his village. His story demonstrates the high national-esteem, solid belief and the sense of honour of Kimberley aborigines. ” The family is the first”, at the end of the interview, he said.

 

Overall, the FIMM film festival as an important platform which demonstrates the diversity of film and culture. Moreover, through this experience, I understand a successful film festival can engage audiences and brings the meaningful impact and inspiration to their life. For instance, at the Q&A section of the Undermined: Tales from The Kimberley, one audience who has the medical background was touched by the movie and expressed his willingness to help the healthcare development of Kimberley community. Although I don’t know how long it will spend on improving the local development of infrastructure construction and the education; and also, the ethnic tensions. It definitely benefits to evoke public attention – to help and support the aboriginal people to build a better living space in Australia.