Another “World-Class” Film Festival in China? Not Again!

According to China Daily, Anji county in East China’s Zhejiang province is working on an ambitious $1 billion Cannes-style film festival. The authorities are teaming with counterparts in the French city, which has hosted the event since 1946, to bring a similar festival to the county of Anji. The aim, in addition to a film festival, is to build a Gallic-themed “film city” and tourist center in Anji, which is known for its bamboo forests and green tea.

A snapshot of Anji's bamboo forest, a tourist spot about 150 miles away from Shanghai, also used as a film set for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and Feng Xiaogang's "The Banquet."

A snapshot of Anji’s bamboo forest, a tourist spot about 150 miles away from Shanghai, also used as a film set for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and Feng Xiaogang’s “The Banquet.”

Xiao Wunan, executive vice-chairman of the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation, one of the initiators of the project, said the goal of the program is to establish a world-class international film festival in Anji. “This film festival should also maintain strong Chinese features. We hope this program can push China’s film industry to a higher level,” he said. Xiao also said he hopes the cooperation between Anji and Cannes can be a milestone for China’s film industry.

When SIFF (Shanghai International Film Festival) is struggling to maintain its status, BIFF (Beijing International Film Festival) is working hard to find its own identity, and the proposed Qingdao International Film Festival, initiated by China’s richest man Wang Jianlin, begins to feel mounting pressure even before the first edition is inaugurated,  here comes the talk about another “world-class” film festival in China? Not again! If the festival talk is a thinly veiled attempt to bring more tourists to the region, I can understand this empty promise. If they are serious, they should first work hard on transforming China’s regulatory system regarding film production and exhibition. Without a fundamental change in the Party’s tight grip on cinema, anything “world-class” is simply meaningless.

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