The 12th annual Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) kicked off in the Chinese capital on Saturday under the theme of "United We Advanced." Over 200 celebrities, movie industry professionals, and government officials attended the opening gala held near the city's scenery Yanqi Lake.
The festival features nine major sections, including the Tiantan Award, the opening ceremony and red carpet, "Beijing Film Panorama" screenings of various noted films, themed forums, the Beijing Film Market, where film companies will sign deals, and a two-week "Online BJIFF" event to stream more than 100 films online.
"Since its launch, the BJIFF has demonstrated its appeal with its growing popularity and contributed to the building of the capital as a "national center of politics, culture, international exchanges, and technology innovation," said Shen Haixiong, chairman of the 12th BJIFF organizing committee, during the opening ceremony. Shen is also the vice minister of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.
"This year's festival has opened as scheduled with the mission to unite Chinese and foreign filmmakers to work and face challenges together. They shall see the harvest season for their film productions, and their deserved honors are arriving," he added.
After 12 years of development, the BJIFF has become a shining signature for Beijing in building a national cultural center, said Mo Gaoyi, executive vice chairman of the 12th BJIFF organizing committee. Mo is also a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee and director general of the Publicity Department of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee.
In 2021, Beijing produced 186 films, accounting for about a quarter of the country's total, including the top three highest-grossing movies.
Mo pointed out that the progress made by Beijing's film industry is the epitome of the thriving of China's film sector in the new era. "With high-quality films as the medium, we will make full use of the resource of the city as the national cultural center and leverage advantage of the city as the dual Olympic city, to better tell China's stories and promote cultural exchanges," he said.
Argentina is the guest of honor of this year's festival, and Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel serves as one of the seven members of its Tiantan Award jury.
Tristan Bauer, minister of Culture of Argentina, congratulated them on the opening of the film festival in his virtual remarks. "We are doing this amid a significant event to celebrate the ties and the 50 year relationship between Argentina and China," he said, adding that this event will further strengthen the ties between the two sides and bring Argentinian cinema closer to the Chinese people.
The festival received submissions from 1,450 domestic and foreign films to compete for its Tiantan Award, including 1,193 foreign films from 88 countries and regions. After selection, 16 films were finally shortlisted for the award race, including three Chinese domestic productions.
Jury President, famous Chinese actor Li Xuejian said that the BJIFF is part of a community with a shared future for mankind, noting that the jury members will work to select outstanding film works that will be popular and stand the test of time to award their creators.
British director Malcolm Clarke, a jury member, stated: "I've been living and working in China for almost 10 years. When I got here, I watched this film festival grow in stature and importance to truly become an international event attracting the work of the world's most interesting and provocative directors."
Italian director and producer Michelangelo Frammartine, a jury member, noted that the BJIFF is a great international event that allows filmmakers from different nations to come together. "The art of film is a universal language that breaks language barriers and transcends borders. When we watch a movie, we share the same moment," he said.
The 12th BJIFF will last till Aug. 20, 2022. It is guided by the China Film Administration, hosted by China Media Group and the People's Government of Beijing Municipality, and organized by the Beijing Municipal Film Administration, the Beijing Municipal Radio and Television Bureau, Beijing Radio & Television Station, the Huairou District People's Government of Beijing Municipality and Beijing Enterprises Group Company Limited.