Since its inauguration, the Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) has been positioned as a film festival with international standard, Chinese characteristics and Beijing style. To Rob Minkoff, President of the Jury of Tiantan Award, the BJIFF is an international community. The judges from different countries and regions got together, aired opinions and exchanged views on films. Their different perspectives of films have created more possibilities for the 9th BJIFF.
What distinguishes the BJIFF most is that it is an "international community", said Minkoff.
Chinese viewers got to know him 24 years ago. In 1995, The Lion King directed by him was released in China. The film has become a classic. Simba's image is imprinted on viewers' mind. Film fans can blurt out the rhythm of "In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps to...".
Now Minkoff serves as the President of the Jury of Tiantan Award at the 9th BJIFF. He is tightly bound to China: his wife is a 76th-generation descendant of Confucius. He visited China in 1997 and now he is amazed by China's dramatic changes 22 years later.
"It is difficult to describe how dramatically China has changed to a person who has never been to China," said he.
In 2007, he directed The Forbidden Kingdom starring Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Liu Yifei and Li Bingbing. This is an early Sino-U.S. co-production which is of great significance to promoting Sino-U.S. cultural cooperation.
As an old friend of the BJIFF, he was a judge for Tiantan Award of the 7th BJIFF. This year he will serve as the President of the Jury of Tiantan Award of the 9th BJIFF. He underlined the significance of the BJIFF to international exchanges. "Founded 9 years ago, the BJIFF aims to present global films to Chinese and foreign viewers and promote the development of the film industry. It is an international competition showcasing international films and telling stories of different backgrounds. And the judges are from across the world, therefore the BJIFF is a real international community," said him.
The BJIFF aims to build a film festival with international standard, Chinese characteristics and Beijing style, as well as an important platform pooling domestic and international film resources, showcasing Chinese and foreign film culture achievements, and promoting Sino-foreign film exchanges and cooperation. Over the years, the BJIFF has facilitated a lot of Sino-foreign co-productions, provided opportunities of transnational cooperation for filmmakers, presented outstanding Chinese and foreign films, and made remarkable contributions to Sino-foreign cultural exchanges. Minkoff's high praise is an important recognition of BJIFF's internationalization, professionalization, innovation, high end and marketization.
Apart from Minkoff, the Jury of Tiantan Award of the 9th BJIFF has six other members. They are Silvio Caiozzi, a Chilean director and producer; Cao Baoping, a director, screenwriter, executive producer and producer in Chinese mainland; Sergey Dvortsevoy, a Russian director; Carina Lau, an actress from Hong Kong, China; Majid Majidi, an Iranian director; Simon West, a British director and producer. The constitution shows the international vision of the BJIFF, which builds a bridge of communication for Chinese and foreign filmmakers, and pools views of different backgrounds. The internationalization of the BJIFF is also reflected in the other judges' views on the BJIFF and films.
Russian director Sergey Dvortsevoy also spoke of co-productions. He said that the future world is a world of co-productions and it is hard to imagine what the world will be like without co-productions. Such win-win cooperation and cultural fusion is an inevitable trend of film industry development. The previous editions of the BJIFF facilitated a lot of co-production projects such as Marco Polo and The Warriors Gate. Dvortsevoy's new film Ayka is a typical co-production involving China, Russia, Germany, Poland, Kazakhstan and France. The film was shortlisted for the Competition Section of the 71st The Festival de Cannes and won the Best Actress Award (Samal Yeslyamova). The success of the film has provided rich experience for multinational co-productions.
Silvio Caiozzi's connection with the BJIFF started early. Last year his film And Suddenly the Dawn participated in “Beijing Film Panorama”at the BJIFF and earned good reputation. This year he feels less stressed as a judge and can communicate with colleagues from around the world in a more relaxed manner. Whether in works or in face-to-face communication, the BJIFF is playing its role as an international community.
The other judges also shared their views on film evaluation criteria. As the only female judge, Carina Lau said that woman, unlike man who is more rational, is more sensitive and sensible and holds different views of films. Majid Majidi considered the emotion expressed in films as an important evaluation criterion. Cao Baoping stressed that finding good films is most important.
Simon West said that the most important thing in evaluation is to see whether it is liked by ordinary viewers rather than to find a criterion through doctrinal analysis. "As a filmmaker, we should not only judge a film from the prespective of shooting technique and skills. Only if a film is popular with the audience, whether it is a genre film or not, it is definitely a good film." said he.
From a perspective of internationalization and diversification, this year’s Tiantan Award is more worth expectation. Let's wait for the unveiling of the winners at the Closing & Awards Ceremony of the 9th Beijing International Film Festival.