Richie Mehta’s Siddharth was awarded best film at the close of the Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF), while Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster picked up three prizes including best director.
The Grandmaster also scooped best actress for Zhang Ziyi and best cinematography for Philippe Le Sourd at the festival’s Tiantan Awards on Wednesday night. Wong Kar Wai and Zhang both won prizes for the film in the same categories at the recent Asian Film Awards in Macau.
Best actor at Beijing’s Tiantan Awards went to Guillaume Gouix for French director Sylvain Chomet’s Attila Marcel, which also won best music. Korean director Lee Joon-ik’s Hope won best supporting actress for the performance of child actor Lee Re. Alan Rickman won best supporting actor for his role in Patrice Leconte’s A Promise.
Peter Ho-sun Chan’s American Dreams In China won best screenplay (Zhou Zhiyong, Zhang Ji and Lin Aihua), while Laos-set Australian film The Rocket won best visual effects.
John Woo headed the jury, which also included Italian actress Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Spanish producer Andres Vicente Gomez, French director Philippe Muyl, Indian filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani and Chinese directors Lu Chuan and Ning Hao. The festival opened with Christophe Gans’ Beauty And The Beast and closed with Leste Chen’s The Great Hypnotist.
Now in its fourth edition, the BJIFF still has some way to go before it challenges the region’s longer-established film festivals in terms of programming and events. But it’s emerging as a useful platform for foreign executives to engage with the booming Chinese film industry in the run-up to Cannes. In addition to invited speakers such as Oliver Stone, Alfonso Cuaron, Paramount COO Frederick Huntsberry and the MPA’s Christopher Dodd, several leading studio execs and producers were in town during the eight-day event (April 16-23). With the growth in the Chinese market, the festival has no trouble in attracting leading industry figures and filmmakers.
Following the co-production forum on the second day, where Stone slammed China’s filmmaking restrictions, the festival hosted two much less controversial forums on creativity in filmmaking and the art and technology of animated movies.
Speakers at the creativity forum included Paula Wagner who encouraged Chinese filmmakers to reinvent existing material in the same way that the Mission Impossible franchise was based on a TV series: “The future is about taking ideas and concepts from the past and marrying them and coming up with something fresh and unique,” Wagner said.
Meanwhile, the festival’s Beijing Film Market also teamed with the Motion Picture Association (MPA) to host a two-day workshop for local filmmakers, which featured master classes from Village Roadshow’s Ellen Eliasoph, Oriental DreamWorks’ Tracey Trench, Ruddy Morgan Organisation’s Andre Morgan and lawyer and executive producer Harris Tulchin.
The workshop also featured coaching sessions and a pitching competition, which was won by Zheng Ye’s project Momo, about a police dog searching for earthquake survivors. In addition, Li Haodong’s Haze and Jiang We’s California Sunshine both won special commendations.