The functions of Chinese film festival

 Yang Cheng, who is an artistic director of China independent film exhibition, once said that a sound film festival should have four levels of content: public education, industry communication, quality exhibition and sales, and the most core, exploration, and discovery role. No matter public education, industry communication or quality exhibition can be replaced by other ways, and the film festival has made great contributions to the exploration and development of excellent films. The key to achieving this core level is the formation of artistic judgment. When this independent and unique artistic judgment becomes the evaluation standard of this film festival, the essence of this film festival can be reflected, which is the foundation of a film. China’s international film festival in this function is relatively weak for the United States, Europe, but also gradually improved. For example, the Shanghai international film festival has the Asian newcomer award, which is generally recognized as the best unit and is the reputation and foundation of the Shanghai film festival in the industry. In recent years, the Beijing international film festival has launched the eye-catching future unit, which also carries the function.


 Second, there is the issue of publicity. That is Beijing. As the most important city in China’s film production, Beijing has already replaced Hong Kong’s international positioning of “Oriental Hollywood”. However, at the same time, Beijing is the center of national culture and ideology, that means it needs to find a very important balance point, which should be based on industry and release certain dominant cultural discourse. Therefore, the Beijing international film festival is probably a “public film festival”. Under China’s existing quota system, again, status does not match the market, making it difficult for us to get a real-world round of screening and the premiere of masterworks. Hence, the Beijing international film festival is most likely to become a marketing orientation and carnival for fans like Hong Kong international film festival, Busan international film festival, and the Toronto international film festival. It is mentioned here that the Beijing film festival is a public event, and in the current environment, many other activities can be more public than the film festival. The bigger the festival gets, the more money it spends, the more movies it makes, the more it shrinks in the future. At the same time, the festival as a “made up” festival is actually about the collective psyche of the public. With the rapid development of the Internet, the “nerd culture” has been deeply rooted in people’s mind. Exhibitions and lectures have become the cultural edification for the public to contact the society ritualized. Therefore, the great development of the film festival is not only the appeal of the film itself but also the development and change in social psychology. In addition, the festival is bigger and bigger, but all of them are comprehensive film festivals. In the future, more special film festivals may be developed in different categories, such as animation and kung fu films.

 It is the issue of the market again. As it becomes easier to watch movies these days, you can see the latest movies from all over the world in China. The film ideology function gradually reduces, but the market function gradually strengthens. The function like an annual show or fashion show. It is worth noting that the opening ceremony of the Beijing international film festival in 2014, the leader of the opening speech, made the film as the official position of the market trading window keynote speech. The subsequent cancellation of the Beijing international film festival competition will further enhance the film trade nature of the festival.

Made in Shanghai—the center of the Shanghai international film festival

The Shanghai international film festival has long insisted on its orientation of “being based in Asia, paying attention to Chinese language and supporting new people”. It not only promotes the new couple’s new works to mature, but also establishes the step cultivation and incubation system, and also summarizes the rich fruits of “made in Shanghai” in the practice. Ning Hao, a famous director, and screenwriter was deeply impressed at this year’s Asian new talent awards on the night of June 22. More than 10 years ago, when his work “green grass” won the most popular Asian newcomer award, he not only let himself be known by the society and the industry but also promoted him to greater success. Therefore, he believed that the film festival had a “kindness to him” and spared no effort to cultivate and support young filmmakers. In fact, a large number of new movies have been made in Shanghai through various parts of the Shanghai international film festival, which has been engraved with the mark of “made in Shanghai” and is releasing more energy in China, Asia and even beyond. Shanghai manufacturing has a long tradition of serving the whole country, when Shanghai products, Shanghai talents sent to the whole country, forming a good reputation. Nowadays,Shanghai is developing for China’s film industry. It is also producing, cultivating and transferring film products and talents. In the words of some filmmakers, “Shanghai is making the future of film”.


From the Shanghai international film festival, people can learn about the trends of film creation and industrial information in China and other countries in the world. This platform is a window for the Shanghai film industry to release the latest plans and policies. As soon as it was released during the festival, the Songjiang district’s “science and technology movie capital” attracted wide attention from domestic and overseas media. This plan aims to implement the “50 cultural and creative lines” of Shanghai and launch the “four major brands” of Shanghai. It will gather a large number of innovative film and television production agencies and vigorously promote the “Shanghai manufacturing” level of the film and television industry. “Made in Shanghai”, a drama film with the theme of inheriting Chinese excellent culture and art, is a big mark of this festival. The world premiere of the 3D panorama Peking Opera film “Cao Cao and Yang Xiu”, the first 3D Kunqu opera film “Jingyang clock”, the first 3D Yue opera film “The Western Chamber”, and the restored version of Yue opera film “A Dream in Red Mansions”, all those reflect the brand of “made in Shanghai”. Obviously, the “made in Shanghai” of literary and artistic works will fly to a wider space after the wings of light and shadow are inserted.


The dilemma and another possibility of Chinese film festival’s development

Film festivals are of great significance to the promotion of a country’s film industry. A first-class international film festival can attract world-class works and create internationally renowned stars. Therefore, it may be possible to use the internationalization of local festivals to push Chinese films around the world.

A lot of people who do film festivals abroad have a question: why are films never the most important thing in Chinese film festivals? Mr. Bailey, the Toronto film festival’s President and a former judge at the Beijing film festival, could not understand why he had not seen a filmmaker so long in Beijing. In Toronto, all the filmmaker and stars are in the audience, which is the vitality of the film festival. There is a great number of mainland actors or actress who attend international film festivals have no excellent film work at all, and the only thing they do is to walk the red carpet, while many international directors are still not used to the spotlight.

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It has long been accepted that Chinese film festivals have low international visibility. As the most well-known international film festivals in China, Shanghai international film festival, Beijing international film festival and Hong Kong international film festival have far less influence than the international status of these cities themselves.

By contrast, Europe’s three main film festivals all have the clear positioning and distinct styles. Cannes film festival always lets a person shine at the moment. it will not only to praise of many independent movies, an increasing number of female filmmakers figure also appeared on the platform. It has been the political and personal declaration platform, the most prominent is its strong humanism thought.  The Venice film festival, with the aim of “film as serious art service”, is famous for its radical and innovative spirit. It is the oldest A-level film festival in the world. It is more about the artistry, depth, criticalness, and thoughtfulness of the film than it is about entertainment. In addition, it focuses on film experimenters in various countries and encourages them to make films with novel forms and unique techniques. The Berlin film festival is a platform for dialogue between audience and authority. It positioned itself as a mirror for international film production, making the festival an important cultural and political role in the convergence and mediation between east and west.

Thus it can be seen that positioning is the first problem to be solved for Chinese film festivals to go international. As China’s top three international film festivals, the Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong film festivals are rooted in the “Beijing regions”, “Shanghai regions” and the international cultural regions, respectively. They have different characteristics. In terms of positioning, they should highlight both internationalization and Chinese cultural elements. Their internationalization must be based on the domestic market. Without the development and prosperity of the domestic film industry internationalization can only be a hollow phrase. Whether the creation of young film workers is encouraged at the policy level or they are inclined to these young directors in terms of funds, Chinese film going to the world is not achieved by simply expressing “Normal human values” and “national characteristics” but is a systematic project. It needs a group of young film workers with an international vision and an accurate grasp of international market trends, and also need the supporting from the government and the public. What needs to be seen is that this process requires international perspectives and Chinese expressions and encourages young filmmakers with Chinese and western cultural backgrounds to create.

The emergence of FIRST youth film festival and Pingyao international film festival has witnessed the attempts and efforts of domestic filmmakers in the above aspects, which seems to be the rising road of China’s private film festival. Although Chinese private film festivals are still a minority and there is still a long way to go before they gain some international recognition and voice, the Chinese films themselves are bound to go through a process of “born from barbarism, vigorous, spontaneous, but ultimately must return to reason”.

MIFF provide a chance for masses to realize documentaries

Before learning this course, I regarded that film festival always shine with golden light and stars. It seems that only a film festival with a star on the red carpet is truly a film festival. However, ever since I went to the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), I have realized how shortsighted I was.

As recommended by my tutor, I participated in the MIFF, which was also my first time to access the film festival. Once upon a time, I thought that attending a film festival was far from the ordinary people, which should be a major event attended by celebrities and other public figures. But unexpectedly, I can access it easily if I buy the ticket online. Because the date on which I bought the ticket was late, only the documentary ‘McQueen’ was left for me to choose from. Like many people, I maintain a boring stereotype about documentaries. However, by watching ‘McQueen’, my thoughts were changed. I was awestruck by McQueen’s legendary and tragic life.


The story is made up of the names of five different shows by McQueen, which lays the foundation for the entire film’s storyline based on his work. This documentary is very beautiful, the main image is the classic of McQueen skulls, to show his style of various periods of his life. The son of an east London taxi driver, he has been drawing fashion designs in textbooks since middle school. He gradually went from a suit-shop apprentice to the world’s favorite star until he finally killed himself on the eve of his mother’s funeral. The film shows the image that him at work, his first visit to Paris, his first show process of self-branding, the initial time he became the Chief of Givenchy. The film also displays him breaking with convention and putting the burst art show in front of everyone. Process using his friends’ relatives interview series, have joy have regretted painful sadness. There is no doubt about his talent for creating beauty. The silly boy who seems to smile burns the flame of inspiration with his soul and makes the real art of fashion, avant-garde and amazing. It is not only the decoration but his emotion. His story is bursting. Those who love! Enthusiasm! The pain! Confused! Angry! All in the work, through the show and costume, to your face. Until it burns down to emptiness. Therefore, the story comes to an end.

The film seems tranquil, nevertheless, it accurately restores the story of McQueen from the shyness at the beginning to the exploration and design period of chaos, and finally the story of rising sun and fading to darkness. His struggles, reflections, the loss of fame and fortune, the brutal truth, depicted an artistic talent that is remarkable, while the real life is ordinary like yours and mine

The experience of watching the documentary ‘McQueen’ had a big impact on me. It reminds me of Sarah Jo Marks ‘s words that is ‘Film festivals are arguably the most important springboards for documentaries.’ Indeed, unlike commercial films, documentaries have a limited audience. However, as Dina and Ragan believe that Festivals are needed in films. Sending films to film festivals, especially a highly competitive one, is often seen as a positive method to make a film accessible to audiences. In other words, festivals provide an effective approach for audiences to understand documentaries to some extent.



Dina, L, Ragan, R, 2009, Film Festival Yearbook 1: the festival circuit, St. Andrews, Scotland: St Andrews Film Studies: College Gate Press.