Chinese culture on and off Berlinale screens

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On screen, this year's Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) opens with the premiere of a Chinese movie directed by a 2007 Golden Bear winner.

Off it, the Berlinale Palast, annual venue for competition premieres, may open to special treats of a Chinese meat dish so deliciously tempting that even vegetarian monks would jump over monastery walls to taste it, hence its name "monks jumping over walls for it."

Such an opening of the 60th version of the Berlin film festival was envisaged by Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick as being conducive to an interaction of oriental and western philosophies about union, separation and reunion, both physical and mental.

At least the theme of the opening night film "Apart Together" is linked with Germany's reunification with stories of family gathering and scattering, said Kosslick.

"I think 'Apart Together' is symbolic at this moment (20th anniversary of the German reunification) with subjects of families, different kinds of families, which can be linked with the German history of divide and reunion," he added.

Wang Quan'an directs the "Apart Together" to tell the story of a soldier who left Shanghai on the mainland for Taiwan in 1949 after the defeat of the Kuomintang rulers.

The story line develops along the heart-breaking separation among the loved ones, the soul-searching thinking of one another, and the tear-drawing reunion with helpless retrospect of elapsed years.

"We really like the film. The movie is about departing and joining again, which is familiar with many Germans, especially those living in Berlin," said Kosslick, who listed the movie in the food film category due to the fact that the movie has centered on the "monks jumping over walls for it" dish.

"I am wondering why not we ask German cooks to make this Chinese dish and give movie-goers a taste right in the cinema," said the Berlinale director.

In addition to the "Apart Together" movie and possibly the dish of "monks jumping over walls for it," this year's Berlin film festival will feature other Chinese productions as well, like Golden Bear winning director Zhang Yimou's "A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop" and a new Jackie Chan kung-fu comedy.

"I think all these different types (of films) indicate a surging strength of China's film industry," the festival director concluded.

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