Wong Kar-wai confident in 'Jinpa' despite rival 'Avengers 4'

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, April 24, 2019
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Producer Wong Kar-wai, director Pema Tseden, and cast members of "Jinpa" appear at the film's premiere in Beijing, April 22, 2019. [Photo/China.org.cn]

A Tibetan film will move ahead with its release in late April against the pressure of the giant Hollywood superhero epic "Avengers: Endgame." Producer Wong Kar-wai has said domestic filmmakers should not be intimidated by commercial blockbusters.

The Chinese film "Jinpa," by Tibetan director Pema Tseden, won best screenplay in the Orizzonti (Horizons) program of the 75th Venice International Film Festival on Sept. 8, 2018. The original nationwide release date was set for April 26, 2019. Then, on April 19, distributor Huaxia Film Distribution Co., Ltd. issued a notice that the film would be released on a limited basis only in theaters under the National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas, a group formed in 2016 and operated by the China Film Archive and a consortium of theater chains supporting art films.

However, Wong Kar-wai, legendary Hong Kong-based director, who is an executive producer of "Jinpa," insisted that the release date would not be changed, even though most cinemas will be occupied by "Avengers: Endgame."

He said at Monday's premiere in Beijing that he had great confidence in "Jinpa." "It is valuable, so the release date is no problem," Wong stated. "The success of the 'Avengers 4' is the success of American movies. But our success depends on the success of our own home-made films. We never say something like when you go to see 'Jinpa' you can't watch 'Avengers 4,' or vice versa. We stay in this film screening season because we believe our audience have sharp eyes to appreciate this film."

"Jinpa" was written and directed by Pema Tseden, who put together two short stories — one is "The Killer" by Tibetan writer Tsering Norbu, and the other is Pema Tseden's own short story "I Ran Over a Sheep." Set in the Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve, which has an average elevation of about 5,000 meters, the film tells the metaphorical and dreamlike story of a Tibetan trucker named Jinpa, who accidentally hits a sheep with his vehicle. He then picks up a hitchhiker of the same name, who happens to be on his way to avenge the death of his father. The director said at the premiere that his film is built on the Tibetan Buddhist philosophy of mercy. 

Sun Xianghui, director of the China Film Archive and head of national art house theater chain, said the consortium of theaters will keep a lifeline open for "Jinpa" while "Avengers: Endgame" sweeps through cinemas.

"Avengers: Endgame" has already earned more than US$100 million in presale tickets in China, while "Jinpa" has so far presold 678,000 yuan (about US$100,837).

Regarding the release to the National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas, Wong added, "From an industry perspective, it is not easy to have a chain for art house films. If we quit the release, we are giving up on ourselves." He also encouraged art house filmmakers: "When you take up 0.1% of the space, that means you have 99.9% more to progress. As long as you can carefully make good films, a dire situation can certainly be improved."

"Supporting the screening of domestically-produced, excellent art house films is an important duty and mission of the National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas and the participating cinemas," Sun said. "The growth of Chinese art films needs all aspects of cultivation and support. I hope that all participating theaters can treat Chinese art house films as equal to foreign art house films."

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