The historic town of Pingyao, a distinguished UNESCO World Heritage Site in Shanxi Province, came alive with cinematic fervor as the 7th edition of the Pingyao International Film Festival commenced. As an epitome of cinematic celebration, this year’s festival is themed “Modern Times” and is set to feature an impressive selection of 57 films hailing from 33 diverse countries, including but not limited to China, France, Argentina, Vietnam, and Iran.
The festival’s official communication revealed remarkable statistics, signifying Pingyao’s growing global impact. A staggering 40% of the films will celebrate their world premieres at the festival, while 71% mark their Asian debut, and 97% their inaugural screening in China. This commitment echoes the festival’s intent to introduce compelling cinematic narratives to audiences worldwide.
Opening the festival is Wei Shujun’s cinematic masterpiece, “Only the River Flows”. This film, penned by the acclaimed Yu Hua, has already made waves with its showcase in Un Certain Regard at the recent Cannes Film Festival. It further cements its stature by being one of the contenders in Pingyao’s distinguished Hidden Dragons competition, which champions rising Chinese filmmakers.
Another film generating significant buzz is Ning Hao’s “The Movie Emperor”, featuring the iconic Liu Dehua (Andy Lau). After its nominations and screenings at renowned film festivals in Toronto and Busan, this film is set for its grand premiere in Pingyao.
Jia Zhangke, a revered figure in Chinese cinema and the visionary behind the Pingyao International Film Festival, shared his thoughts on the festival’s mission. According to reports, he emphasized the festival’s aim to uncover and ardently endorse groundbreaking works by youthful directors from non-Western regions.
The sentiment of Pingyao as a nexus of cinematic excellence was echoed by Marco Mueller, the festival’s chief curator. He observed the increasing inclination of international filmmakers to select Pingyao as their preferred destination for film premieres.
The festival’s stature has grown immensely since its inception in 2017, earning the reputation of being a vital portal for foreign-language films in China. Records indicate that over 40% of all foreign-language films screened at Pingyao in its previous six editions found buyers among domestic distribution entities.
The Covid-19 pandemic did pose challenges to the festival’s format. While the previous year’s festival saw a postponement, it did manage to see the light of day in January. This year, while the festival persists as a physical gathering, it does so without its international attendees.
Beyond just screenings, the festival serves as an incubator for talent, fostering collaborations, and supporting emerging filmmakers. This is further emphasized through initiatives like the Pingyao Project Promotion.
The curtains will eventually draw on this edition of the festival with the much-anticipated world premiere of Fei Yu’s “Football On The Roof”, leaving audiences in eager anticipation for the next cinematic extravaganza in Pingyao.