Pingyao Film Festival Sharpens its Focus on Housewives

October 22, 2018  Editor: Xie Wen
A scene from Dumplings, China's short film in the larger work Half the Sky, starring Liu Bei, Wang Luodan and Zong Ping. The short film presents the conflicting values of different generations in contemporary China. [China Daily]

 

This year, the annual event in Shanxi province highlights movies by female directors and on women's issues.

Women were the focus of the recently concluded Pingyao Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon International Film Festival.

The second of the annual festival, which was held in the ancient city of Pingyao, Shanxi province, showcased films by female directors or those addressing women's social conditions.

The theme of this year's festival, which ran from Oct 11 to Saturday, was "boutique festival for the people".

Speaking about the event, Jia Zhangke, a film director and founder of PYIFF, said: "We intended to put the films into a secular market scenario, so as to create a spontaneous, objective and inclusive setting for discussion and exchange."

The festival, which was founded by Jia and Italian festival director Marco Muller in 2017, has Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in its title as a nod to Ang Lee's Oscar-winning film of the same name. And, Crouching Tigers and Hidden Dragons are the two major sections of the festival events.

The films featured at this year's PYIFF presented an emphasis on the works of female directors and women's social conditions.

Both the opening film, Half the Sky, and the premiere on the Pingyao Night gala, Red Flowers and Green Leaves, were directed by female directors.

Half the Sky showcases cooperation among the BRICS countries - China, Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa - as a response to President Xi Jinping's proposal of BRICS film cooperation at the 8th BRICS summit in the western Indian state of Goa.

The film is a compilation of five short films, all made by female directors on the topic of "contemporary female emotions and society".

The title of the film is an allusion to Mao Zedong's advocacy - "women hold up half the sky". The film conveys women's desires, observations and emotions, and also demonstrates the talent of female filmmakers, according to Jia, who spoke as the executive producer of the film.

Among the short films, the one from India, Taken for Granted, was produced by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and the team of the film Dangal, with director Nitesh Tiwari as the screenwriter.

The film, while retaining the traditional Indian family structure in Dangal, deals with a housewife's inner struggle in finding her own identity.

The inspiration for this film, according to its producer Sanjay Shetty, is the tendency of people taking women's contributions for granted.

Housewives do just as much for families as men, but they are often neglected and even marginalized, Shetty said.

Similarly, China's short film, Dumplings, presents a wronged mother whose desires and values are not accepted by her daughter.

Their conflicts essentially embody the conflicting values of different generations in contemporary China.

Speaking about Half the Sky, Zhu Weijie, president of Beijing Wishart Communication Co, one of the production companies of the film, said: "It has very important implications for both the market and cultural exchanges.

"Women are the main force in the marketing of films. We need films like this to listen to their voices and see things from their perspective.

"From the first BRICS co-produced film, Where Has Time Gone?, to Half the Sky, the second, these films are not only entertaining, but also a very important cultural achievement."

While Jia took on the task of directing China's short film in Where Has Time Gone? last year, this year's Dumplings was directed by young director Liu Yulin, echoing the festival's continuing commitment to young aspiring filmmakers.

Speaking about that commitment, Xu Zheng, Chinese actor, director and producer, as well as the "youth mentor" of the 2nd PYIFF, said: "We look forward to meeting gifted young filmmakers and other creative talents in Pingyao, and hope to create a more professional environment for their healthy development."

The Crouching Tigers section was set up to discover new directors and new films and selecting the first or second works of outstanding new directors from around the globe.

And the New Generation China section presented a selection of Chinese-language films by talented young filmmakers.

Many of the films had already won worldwide recognition.

For instance, The Crossing from the Crouching Tigers section won the Netpac Award of Honorable Mention at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival; and Dead Pigs from New Generation China won a special jury prize for ensemble acting at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

Besides the screenings of selected films, this year's PYIFF featured a series of academic activities under its Filmmakers' Program section, comprising 10 master-classes, forums and panels, offering in-depth intellectual discussion on filmmaking.

On Oct 17, Xu held a dialogue with Jia in his masterclass, offering his experience and insights to young directors.

To further inject new blood into China's film industry, the festival also worked with seven major Chinese film and communication universities, including the Beijing Film Academy, the Central Academy of Drama and the Communication University of China, in its Pingyao Corner section, a platform for students to display their works and for the industry to approach emergent filmmaking forces.

(Source: China Daily)

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