Shanghai is the place to discover commercial independent Chinese cinema

Thanks to the Shanghai International Film Festival’s (SIFF) two competition sections — the Golden Goblet award and the Asian New Talent award — as well as its project market China Film Pitch and Catch (CFPC), SIFF is seen as an important platform for new Chinese cinema.

The work of Chinese film-makers such as Ning Hao [pictured], whose credits include Mongolian Ping Pong, Crazy Stone and Crazy Racer, and Zhang Meng, whose Lucky Dog won the jury prize in the Asian New Talent awards, were first showcased by SIFF. And the festival has been a stepping stone for film-makers from the further Chinese-speaking world such as Tibetan film-maker Pema Tseden and Taiwanese film-maker Tom Lin who both had their first films premiered in Shanghai.

“We are grateful Shanghai continues to support independent film-making in China, especially in the current situation where commercial films are highly valued in the fast-growing China market while independent films seemed sidelined,” says Beijing-based independent producer Freeman Xiang, who has been involved in China-based films such as No Liar, No Cry (2010), Soul Carriage (2007) by UK film-maker Conrad Clark and Shanghai Trance (2008) by Dutch film-maker David Verbeek.

While many Chinese independent film-makers seek international recognition from platforms such as Cannes, Berlin and Venice, there are still those who need to be discovered at home.

“Many new film-makers are creative enough but not so artistic for Cannes or Berlin standards,” says Xiang. “But then being first or second films, they do not have enough commercial elements to attract local distributors. Here, SIFF provides a suitable platform for these film-makers to stand out.”