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Luc Besson, Ang Lee Grace Shanghai Film Festival
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17 films including two Chinese productions are vying for Jin Jue Awards at the Ninth Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF), which opened today at the Shanghai Concert Hall.

The Jin Jue Awards comprise prizes in eight categories including Best Film, Best Actor, and Best Actress.

Established in 1993, SIFF was approved by the State Council of the People's Republic of China, and is a FIAPF-accredited competitive international film festival. FIAPF is the International Federation of Film Producers Associations.

The celluloid fest runs from today until June 25. The main highlights of the festival are undoubtedly the Jin Jue Awards competition, International Film Panorama for non-competition films, international film and TV market, a film forum, and the Asian New Talent Award that was introduced in 2004.

Through an online application process, the SIFF organizing committee received a total of 746 movie entries from 53 countries, up 48.3 percent from 2005, while the number of Asian New Talent Award applicants reached 83, up 50.9 percent from last year.

Among the 17 films competing for the Best Film Award are two Chinese productions. The Music Box, directed by the late Chen Yifei, is a tragicomedy of an ordinary barber in turmoil during World War II and the subsequent Chinese civil war. Chen, better known as a painter than a filmmaker, passed away during the shooting of the movie.

The Forest Ranger directed by Qi Jian tells the story of a ranger who dies protecting a state-owned forest. It won the Best Film award at the 13th Beijing Student Film Festival in April.

Other candidates include Chris Kraus' Four Minutes (Germany), Jean Beaudin's Without Her (Canada), Teresa Costantini's Cities and Love (Argentina), and Sergio Rubini's The Land (Italy). These four movies will make their world premieres in Shanghai.

Jin Jue Award winners will be selected by a nine-member judging panel chaired by 47-year-old French filmmaker Luc Besson. Also on the panel are Oscar-winning Italian director Gabriele Salvatores, and Chinese filmmakers Feng Xiaogang and Xu Jinglei.

The first foreigner to preside over the jury, Besson is taking this opportunity to present an exclusive film screening featuring nine of his films including Angel-A, The Fifth Element, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, and The Big Blue.

Other openers and closers that movie buffs can look forward to are James Ivory's The White Countess, a joint venture between China and the UK, and Pedro Almodovar's Volver.

More than 150 films, both local and foreign, will be screened at 19 cinemas, including Walk the Line, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Pride and Prejudice and Hollywood's latest blockbuster X-Men: The Last Stand. X-Men director Brett Ratner and "Wolverine" Hugh Jackman will meet and greet fans in Shanghai, as will Ang Lee, who scooped the Best Director Oscar for his cowboy romance Brokeback Mountain at this year's Academy Awards.

According to the organizing committee, a third of the films scheduled for screening are domestic productions, such as The Myth, Perhaps Love, Izabella, and Aspirin.


( by Li Xiao, June 17, 2006)

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