8th Beijing Int'l Film Festival opens on Sunday

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The 8th Beijing International Film Festival kicks off in Beijing on Sunday, April 15, 2018. [Photo/China Plus]

The eighth annual Beijing International Film Festival lifted its curtain on Sunday at Yanqi Lake International Convention and Exhibition Center, gathering a star-studded lineup on the red carpet.

The Tiantan Awards are the highest awards at the festival, which 659 films from 71 countries and regions have entered. Fifteen films have been selected as finalists and await the all-star jury's decision.

Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai, a globally acclaimed flag-bearer of New Wave, is the head of the seven-person jury.

"No matter what genre the candidates belong to, be it a commercial or art-house production, they have to do well in storytelling," Wong said of the selection criteria. "We will evaluate those with original thoughts and creativity."

Jury members of the Tiantan Award pose on the red carpet before the opening ceremony of the 8th Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) in Beijing, capital of China, April 15, 2018. (Xinhua/Luo Xiaoguang)

This year's shortlist of potential winners includes two Chinese productions: Hold Your Hands, an arthouse film on villagers' endeavor to get rid of poverty in Hunan province, and Operation Red Sea, an action film - and huge success in the box office this year - inspired by the evacuation of Chinese citizens from Yemen in 2015.

The other finalists include the Czech war comedy Barefoot, Canadian drama Eye on Juliet and South African biographic film Krotoa.

Wong, noting that 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up policy, said he was eager to find more abundant types of films at the festival this time.

"Chinese cinema should adopt a more open attitude to encourage different styles," Wong said. "We need green grass, and we also need red flowers, and we can have flourishing blossoms."

Actor Duan Yihong, also a jury member, called for more support for young talent at the Beijing festival.

"When I choose scripts," Duan said, "I usually don't work with the directors who are very famous. I put more value in whether the directors really care about people's destinies."

The other jurors are Shu Qi, an actress from Taiwan, Ruben Ostlund, a Swedish director acclaimed for his Palme d'Or-winning The Square at the Cannes Film Festival last year, Jan Kaczmarek, a Polish film score composer who won an Academy Award for Finding Neverland, Calin Peter Netzer, the Romanian director of the 2013 Golden Bear winner Child's Pose in Berlin, and Jonathan Mostow, the Hollywood action director best known for Terminator 3.

Mostow said the Beijing festival is a venue for different cultures from all over the world to communicate, and it will long inspire filmmakers, including him. Ostlund revealed he will be looking in China for the right actors for his next film.

More than 300 events - including forums, premieres, and trade fairs - will be held in the coming week for the festival, which ends on April 22.

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