First film to be released after COVID-19 shutdown announced

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, July 17, 2020
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Posters of "A First Farewell" [Image courtesy of Beijing Medoc Film]

The first film to be released on July 20 when China's cinemas reopen will be "A First Farewell."

"A First Farewell," an 86-minute debut feature by young director Wang Lina, is a healing story about three young Uyghur children in Xinjiang. 

The plot focuses on a boy named Isa, who when not at school or working on his parents' farmyard spends carefree days with his friends – until the outside world starts forcing him to say goodbye to one after another. Isa's best friend Kalbinur is getting bad grades and is about to be sent to a faraway school. Meanwhile, a little lamb, which the two children had been looking after with devotion ever since it was born, disappears. Captured in naturalistic imagery, winter closes in on Isa's world, and the children have to learn how to grow up.

The film first premiered in 2018 at the Tokyo International Film Festival and won Asian Future Best Film. It also collected the Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the Best Film at the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival, and the Firebird Award of Young Cinema Competition (Chinese Language) at the 2019 Hong Kong International Film Festival, as well as the Best Film at the 2019 Chinesische Film Festival in Deutschland.

China's cinemas have been closed for more than 170 days. "This year is the hardest time for Chinese industry. Who could imagine that the farewell to motion pictures and cinemas could be so long," wrote Wu Feiyue, a producer of the film, in an open letter on behalf of all producers and partners.

He pointed out that China's film industry has fallen silent, while movie companies have collapsed one by one, and some cinemas closed down forever.

"The farewell is too long. We are looking forward to the moment when we meet again so much," he stated. As the epidemic is under control in China and cinemas are about to reopen, he still feared that everyone could not recover immediately, and many cinemas have expressed their concerns. If there's no new release in cinemas, audiences cannot be attracted into cinemas, then the cinemas will face operational pressures even if they reopen.

"So, we made this tough and resolute decision. We are willing to use this film, our most treasured film work – 'A First Farewell,' to support cinemas to resume work, and contribute to the recovery of Chinese film industry."

Wu said that after this global pandemic, "no matter whether you are for visual enjoyment or in-depth drama, we need a pure and beautiful and healing journey more than ever."

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