Asian New Talent directors

Source: SIFF

(l-r) Masoud Amini Tirani, Manohara K, WANG Xinrui, ZHANG Xuyu, ZENG Zhi, ZHANG Luoping, Abhilash Sharma, Malika Mukhamejan, LU Dan, ZANG Lianrong, XU Ruogu, Takuro Ijichi

Now into its 26th edition, the Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) continues to place great emphasis on “Asia, Chinese films and new talent”.

“One of the key missions of SIFF is to discover new filmmaking talent, with the Asian New Talent competition playing a big part for the last two decades,” says Chen Guo, managing director of the Shanghai International Film and TV Events Centre, the organisation that runs SIFF. The festival will take place from June 14-23.

This year will mark the 20th edition of the Asian New Talent competition, following its launch in 2004 with the aim to create a dedicated platform to showcase first or second directorial feature films and nurture up-and-coming filmmaking talent from Asia. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, SIFF will host a plethora of events from a film forum to special screenings, culminating in the Asian New Talent awards gala on June 20.

A total of 11 titles from this year’s Asian New Talent competition – all world premieres, comprising six from China, two from India, one each from Iran and Japan and a Russia-Kazakhstan-Italy co-production – will be vying for six awards such as best film and best director. Chinese director Cao Baoping has been appointed jury head.

Cao’s solo directorial feature debut Trouble Makers earned a jury prize at Asian New Talent in 2006. The film is among 10 previous award-winners that will be re-screened in SIFF Special: Asian New Talent 20 Collection, which also includes South Of The Clouds, Jalainur and Return Ticket, all of which won best director prizes for Zhu Wen in the inaugural 2004 edition, Zhao Ye in 2008 and Teng Yung-Shing in 2011 respectively.

Further special screening titles include Reza Dormishian’s I’m not Angry! from Iran, winner of best film and best director in 2014; Raam Reddy’s Thithi from India, best film winner in 2015; Momoko Ando’s 0.5mm from Japan, best director winner in 2015; and Shutte Life from Malaysia, which won best film and best actor for Jack Tan in 2017.

All of the above-mentioned filmmakers will revisit SIFF this year to present their award-winning features to audiences. “Asian New Talent has discovered many emerging talents over the years, many of whom are still active in the film industry,” Chen adds. “This year, we will welcome the return of many of our good friends as we continue to create international collaboration opportunities for promising filmmaking talent in Asia.”

Iranian director Dormishian and Indian director Reddy will also take part in roundtable discussions, exploring the growth of new Asian creative forces and identifying new trends in Asian cinema. Further forum speakers include Japanese director Iwai Shunji, the jury head of Asian New Talent in 2011, and Hong Kong director Derek Yee, the producer of In Broad Daylight and Time Still Turns The Pages. Both films premiered at last year’s Asian New Talent competition before going on to earn many accolades and achieve box office success in China.

Developing new talent

The Asian New Talent competition is part of the 6+1 initiative that SIFF has put in place in a concerted effort to cultivate new talent over different stages, which also comprises SIFF Explore, SIFF Next, SIFF Young, SIFF Project and the Short Film competition. Up-and-coming directors, producers and screenwriters are given the opportunities to join a variety of programmes most suitable to the status of their projects, from incubation and development workshops to short film production and competition showcase.

“The 6+1 programmes are interconnected, providing a comprehensive and practical approach in cultivating emerging talent and enhancing the reputation of SIFF as a leading international film festival in China,” Chen says.

Since last year, the Asian New Talent competition has been integrated into the long-running Golden Goblet Awards. A total of 50 films are in contention for the Golden Goblet Awards this year, which also include 14 feature films from the main competition, five each from the animated feature and documentary feature competition and 15 from the short film competition.

Between them are a record 38 world premieres, six international premieres and six Asian premieres. The Golden Goblet Awards ceremony will take place on June 22, following the Asian New Talent awards gala on June 20.