Beijing film fair grows in appeal and popularity

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The 9th Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) will lift its curtain Saturday and run until April 20. The festival will serve as a platform for international exchange and cooperation in the movie industry and provide a visual feast for movie lovers through a wide range of activities.

In the past eight years, the BJIFF has gradually grown into a full-fledged event with worldwide appeal and an ever higher profile.

According to reports, over 1,000 A-list celebrities in the movie industry have attended the festival in the past eight years, including James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Keanu Reeves, Natalie Portman, and many others.

In 2013, the festival introduced the Tiantan Award, and has since attracted over 3,800 films and filmmakers from over 110 countries and regions to compete in the 10 award categories. The selection process follows the principles of international vision, standardized procedures, and professional standards, with a jury consisting of the world's most prestigious filmmakers.

The festival is providing a platform for people to discuss various new patterns of filmmaking and to network extensively, said Marco Mueller, who previously headed the Venice Film Festivals. He said the event helps professionals in the movie industry to better engage in dialogue and communication and increase mutual understanding.

The festival has also facilitated international cooperation and trade in the movie industry. From 2011 to 2018, the value of the contracts signed during the annual festival has grown year by year with the accumulative total over 101 billion yuan (US$15.03 billion).

The exhibition area during the first BJIFF only covered around 1,800 square meters with only about 100 exhibitors participated in the event, said Poly Theatre spokesperson Liu Jianfeng. In comparison, almost 300 film companies and organizations registered for the 2018 exhibition, and 40 percent were overseas exhibitors. 

"BJIFF makes it easier for us to engage with movie investors, distributors and facilities providers in the downstream of the business," Liu said. "It has indeed become a good place to discuss screenplays, demonstrate new technological equipment, and seek financing opportunities."

"Young directors sometimes have a hard time finding a chance to demonstrate their work," said director Yang Zi. "The festival provides an opportunity to showcase their work, network with the investors, so that talented young filmmakers can really stand out among the crowd."

Feng Wei, vice president of MPAA Asia Pacific and chief representative of the MPAA's China office, said BJIFF's growth over the years has been incredible. "It not only provides a platform for international exchange and cooperation, but also help to present the cultural and creative industry of its host city Beijing."

One of the festival's most popular and much-anticipated events is the Beijing Film Panorama. This year the organizing committee has selected nearly 500 films to be screened at 30 cinemas across Beijing for 15 days, which began on April 6.

According to reports, over 2,870 films produced by over 100 countries have been screened at the festival over the past eight years.

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