Open-air film screening lights up plateau night

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, August 7, 2020
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For over a week, cool summer nights in the plateau city of Xining had been illuminated by a large screen.

The extravagant outdoor installation was part of the 14th FIRST International Film Festival that attracted many filmmakers and enthusiastic cinemagoers.

The festival, which lasted from July 26 to Aug. 3 in Xining, capital of northwest China's Qinghai Province, is aimed at helping young filmmakers promote their work.

The film festival, bearing the tagline "back to first, back to the cinema," provided Xining residents an opportunity to revel in the familiar life that had been missing for months due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

"The open-air cinema of the film festival was set up to add more cultural elements to the city and better promote the festival, as well as new films," said Li Ziwei, one of the organizers.

Many cinephiles, guests from the film fraternity and some 600 reporters attended the festival. Most tickets to the film screenings, including the open-air venue, were sold out as soon as the booking platform was opened.

The organizers decided to utilize the concrete steps surrounding the venue, so they invited locals to watch the films for free.

"As the screen was installed in one of the city's busiest commercial streets, the decision to invite more people to the free-entry area not only boosted consumption but also popularized the film festival among locals and tourists," said Li.

"The number of people around the venue could exceed 3,000 for a screening," said Gao Wenqiang, a security guard who was deployed at the site.

"It was 8:30 p.m. and I had already sold 100 bottles," said a vendor who sold beverages at a store nearby. The increased flow of tourists provided many businesses with an opportunity to make up for the loss incurred during the epidemic in the first half of the year.

"Watching films in an open-air venue used to be a childhood memory for our generation," said 64-year-old Li Ying, who enjoyed the film screening sitting on the concrete steps as he couldn't get an entry ticket.

Li Hailing, a 20-year-old sophomore student, was a regular visitor to the open-air cinema. "It's been long since I watched a movie in the theater with my friends, so this festival is a thrilling experience for the youths. Even live bands performed here," she said.

Visitors to the festival had to comply with the epidemic prevention guidelines strictly. They were required to show their health codes and undergo temperature screening before taking seats.

"It is a pleasure and, at the same time, a pity to talk about cinema in 2020," said Xie Fei, a renowned Chinese film director and honorary president of the film festival.

"At a time when the epidemic continues to overshadow the lives of many, and online viewing in lieu of theaters has become the new normal, I could not emphasize enough how admirable it is for FIRST to hold its ground," Xie said.

The China Film Administration allowed cinemas in low-risk areas to resume operation starting from July 20, following an improvement in the country's epidemic situation.

So far, 36 out of the total 50 cinemas in Qinghai Province have reopened. 

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