Wang Xiaoshuai has caused a stir at the Shanghai International Film Festival, condemning his fellow directors during a seminar on the state of the Chinese movie industry.
Director Wang Xiaoshuai's attack on those high-budget commercial movie makers causes a stir at the on-going Shanghai International Film Festival. [China Daily]
Wang, who won a Silver Bear for screenplay at Berlin last year with In Love We Trust (Zuo You), was on stage with Lu Chuan, Ning Hao and Wei Te-sheng.
The art house filmmaker suddenly turned to his fellow panelists and told the audience: "They're all successful members of the 100 million yuan club but they fail as directors."
He went on to label their movies "too commercial" and accused them of failing to treat film as an art form. He concluded: "The biggest problem of Chinese cinema is the over-obsession with money. "I strongly believe cinema is art. Films need dignity and confidence. I am happier than these other directors because I can still make films I really like."
As those present digested the full force of Wang's attack, Lu Chuan stood up in his defense.
The director, whose Nanjing: City of Life and Death (Nanjing Nanjing) has been a hit with fans and critics alike, says that films like The Godfather, which sold well and were hailed for their artistic merit, were what was needed.
"It is an outdated opinion to divide art and commerce," he said. "Film first and foremost is a consumption product. Do not try to guide the viewers and look down on them from such a lofty position."
The festival, which runs until Sunday, is being held amid a boom time for China's film industry. Its box office takings last year were a record-breaking 4.34 billion yuan ($638 million), an increase of 30 percent on 2007 and representing continuous annual growth of 25 percent since 2002.
A record 406 feature films were made last year. The number of movie theaters has nearly tripled from 1,400 in 2002 to more than 4,000 now.
However, director/actor Zhang Guoli, the seminar host, pointed out that only 100 of the new feature films had gained national releases.
This was explained by Chen Guowei, vice president of Wanda Cinema Lines, and Wu Hehu, deputy director of Shanghai United Cinema Lines, who agreed that filmgoers in China fell into the 16-25 age bracket and favored action films and comedies.
This year's Shanghai festival attracted a record-breaking 1,925 entries, including 1,270 feature films and 655 short films, all competing for Sunday night's top awards.
Among those attending are Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry, The Reader director Stephen Daldry and jury-leading Danny Boyle, director of Slumdog Millionaire.
Emperor Group chairman Albert Yeung Sau-shing walked the red carpet with Han Xue (first left), Ah Sa (second right) and Yumiko Cheng (first right). [China Daily]
A vast array of Chinese A-listers has also been present, including Zhang Ziyi, promoting her first comedy Sophie's Revenge, Zhou Xun, Zhao Wei, Fan Bingbing, Li Bingbing and Joan Chen.
Among many optimists in the Chinese film industry is Han Sanping, chairman of China Film Group, who predicts that in a decade China's box office revenue will reach 35 billion yuan ($5.1 billion).
A discussion between Boyle, Daldry and Jiang Wen, the Chinese director of Devils on the Doorstep and In the Heat of the Sun, kicks off today on the theme of making films simply.
Other highlights include an Asian New Talent Award, aimed at encouraging new directors and a master class by Quincy Jones the acclaimed film composer.
Actress Halle Berry has also received an award for making an "outstanding contribution" to the film industry.
(China Daily June 18, 2009)