Opera films a highlight at Beijing Film Festival

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, April 19, 2015
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The premiere of "Farewell My Concubine" is held at Tsinghua University in Beijing on April 18, 2015. [Photo/China.org.cn]

Five 3D films featuring Peking opera are premiering during the ongoing the Fifth Beijing International Film Festival.

The Peking Opera films include "Farewell My Concubine" by Teng Junjie, an adaptation of the classic love story based on the legend of ancient hero Xiang Yu and his beloved concubine Yu Ji, "Dragon and the Phoenix Bringing Prosperity" by Bao Erfu, "The Pearl Shirt" by Wang Haowei and Li Chensheng, "Qin Xianglian" by Xiao Lang and Qiu Lili and "In Pursuit of the General" by Teng Junjie.

"By including a high-tech and modern touch, audiences can appreciate the beauty of Beijing opera while enjoying the story from their own perspective," "Farewell My Concubine" director Teng said at the premiere of "Farewell My Concubine" in Beijing. The film combines traditional Chinese culture and modern technology, making "Farewell My Concubine" the first ever 3D Peking Opera film in Chinese history, Teng said. The two lead roles are filled by 75-year-old opera veteran Shang Changrong and rising star Shi Yihong.

"Farewell My Concubine" and "In Pursuit of the General" were both made by the Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe. Both films will hit big screens in China on May 5.

"Dragon and the Phoenix Bringing Prosperity" and "The Pearl Shirt" will hit Chinese screens on April 23.

Speaking at the film's premiere in Peking University, Wang Haowei, director of "The Pearl Shirt," said he hopes the Peking Opera films can bring a brand new experience to audiences, while actor in the film Du Zhenjie said Peking Opera actors had very few chances before to make opera into films and he hoped generations can carry on the Chinese cultural essence.

The Beijing Film Festival specially set up a section for classical Peking Opera films, to mark the 110th anniversary of the first Chinese film "Ding Jun Shan," a Peking Opera film and the 120th birthday of Peking Opera master Mei Lanfang. The section will serve as a platform and carrier to further promote Chinese traditional culture, tell Chinese stories and move Chinese opera onto a global stage, the organizers of the film festival said.

The five films are from Peking Opera Film Project, a five-year project which was initiated in 2011 to make 10 movies out of the most classic operas. It promotes the operas performed by contemporary top Peking Opera artists and musicians through stage performances and filmmaking. This is "the most influential and significant milestone project in Peking Opera history," organizers said.

"Farewell My Concubine" had its overseas premiere in Hollywood last May and was given an award for Live Broadcast Music Entertainment by the International 3D and Advanced Imaging Society in January.

The Beijing Film Festival opened on Thursday evening at Yanqi Lake with an opening ceremony attracting nearly 1,500 international filmmakers, directors and actors. To represent Beijing style and highlight the inheritance of Peking Opera, the opening ceremony featured a classic aria from Peking Opera for the first time. Many well-known players of various Peking Opera schools gave unique performances on the stage, including master Mei Baojiu.

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