The 58th Cannes Film Festival, one of the most prestigious international celluloid extravaganzas for both filmmakers and fans alike, opened today in France. A total of 21 films are competing for the Best Picture award, or Palme d'Or. The festival runs until May 22.
Among the contestants for the main event, or the "In Competition" category, are three Chinese films: Shanghai Dreams by mainland director, Wang Xiaoshuai; The Best of Our Times by veteran Taiwanese director, Hou Hsiao-Hsien; and gangster flick, Election, by Hong Kong's Johnny To.
This isn't the first time that a Wang Xiaoshuai's film will see the light of day in Cannes. In 1999 and 2003 respectively, Wang brought his films So Close to Paradise and Drifters into the Un Certain Regard category. Wang also captured the world's attention when he won the Silver Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival in 2001 for Beijing Bicycle.
Shanghai Dreams, a story set in the 1980s about the life of a migrant family and a girl's puppy love is Wang's seventh feature film.
More significant, it is the first of his movies to have made it past the censors at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. The movie is being prepped for general release in Chinese cinemas.
Speaking with the Chinese media, Wang said that he was happy to have been given the chance to compete, although he has no real expectation of winning.
Commenting on the fact that three Chinese films are on this year's competition roster, Wang noted this isn't a peculiar situation. In 2000, for example, three Chinese films were in the running for the Palme d'Or, namely Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood for Love, Edward Yang's A One and A Two and Jiang Wen's Devils on the Doorstep.
Other Asian films competing for the big prize are A Tale of the Cinema (South Korea), directed by Hong Sang-Soo, and Bashing (Japan), a film by Japanese director, Kobayashi Masahiro.
Director, Emir Kusturica, from Serbia-Montenegro is president of this year's judging panel. Other members include: John Woo (Director, China), Toni Morrison (Writer, USA), Nandita Das (Actress, India), Salma Hayek (Actress, Mexico), Agnès Varda (Director, France), Fatih Akin (Director, Germany), Javier Bardem (Actor, Spain), and Benoît Jacquot (Director, France). Edward Yang from Taiwan, Cannes Best Director winner with A One and A Two, will preside over the Cinéfondation and Short Films Jury, and American director, Alexander Payne, has been appointed as the president of the Un Certain Regard jury.
Non-competition screenings include Operetta Tanuki Goten (Japan) directed by Seijun Suzuki and starring international Chinese star, Zhang Ziyi. In addition, there will be first-ever screenings of other made-in-China flicks including an 11-minute trailer to Chen Kaige's first foray into the martial-arts genre The Promise; Initial D by Wai Keung Lau; Seven Swords by Tsui Hark and The Myth co-directed by kungfu star, Jackie Chan.
(China.org.cn by Li Xiao, May 11, 2005)