The Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) is now going into its ninth year. Next year, we will welcome the ten-year commitment to film fans and filmmakers. A decade is a node and start. We are excited with expectation for the decade and have firm confidence because of our growth over the past nine years. At the very moment, we review the past and look into the future. Every year the BJIFF presented unforgettable highlights.
Founded in 2011, the BJIFF acquired its current name in 2012. The 1st Beijing International Film Festival took place from April 23rd to 28th, 2011. Over the nine years, with the concept of "Share the Screen, Shape the Future", the BJIFF has built a filmmaker exchange platform, promoted industrial development, provided cultural services to film fans, and been committed to building an international, professional, innovative, high-end and market-oriented cultural event. Every selection, every screening, every salon…over the nine years are trails of the BJIFF. BJIFF, a newborn 9 years ago, has changed significantly.
The 1st BJIFF: at a high start
On April 23rd, 2011, the 1st BJIFF opened. It included six major sectors: Opening Ceremony, “Beijing Film Panorama”, professional forums, negotiations, Film Concert and Closing Ceremony. These major events with a scientific and rational layout have continued up to now and built the basic framework of the BJIFF over the past nine years. The 1st BJIFF brought together over 2,000 Chinese and foreign guests, 100,000 people from all walks of life in Beijing, over 130 domestic and foreign actors and actresses, directors and film celebrities, 495 reporters from 179 media outlets in 25 countries and regions, 334 Chinese and foreign film institutions and over 860 industry insiders. 47 guests delivered speeches at the President Forum, Directors Dialogue, China-Europe Co-production Forum and 4 professional lectures. The 1st BJIFF facilitated 10 transactions, with a record total contract amount of 2.794 billion yuan among domestic film festivals and exhibitions at that time. Though at an early stage, BJIFF has shown huge momentum and released infinite vitality, the 1st BJIFF with a high starting point laid a solid foundation for future development.
The 2ndBJIFF: leapfrog improvement
The BJIFF acquired its current name in 2012 with broader international vision and a larger scale. The “Film Carnival” was added to the 2nd BJIFF on the basis of the six original major sectors to further enrich the content of the BJIFF. As the only of its kind in the world, it involved more people to experience the charm of films in more ways. The Closing Ceremony, in the form of film symphony concert, invited the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to present the music of classic films like Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Avatar and Red Detachment of Women. Hayley Dee Westenra, a New Zealand soprano, sang My Heart Will Go On, the main theme song of Titanic. These activities showed that BJIFF is an international, professional, innovative and high-end event. The leaping festival not only intensified visitor services, but also attracted more international filmmakers. Over 260 outstanding films from 54 countries and regions hit the cinema screens in Beijing. Over 300 world top filmmakers including James Cameron appeared, 246 Chinese and foreign media outlets registered for the festival, over 900 reporters covered the festival, 640 film & television institutions and 179 exhibitors from across the world participated in the festival, and 21 projects were signed with a total contract amount of 5.273 billion yuan. During meeting James Cameron, Liu Qi, then Secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China noted that the BJIFF aimed to build an international communication and cooperation platform.
The 3rd BJIFF: the launch of Tiantan Award
Competition Section, Tiantan Award was added to the 3rd BJIFF in 2013, attracted new outstanding films from across the world, and received 531 entries from 56 countries and regions. The Jury of Tiantan Award consisted of the most authoritative and professional filmmakers in the world. Renowned Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov served as the President of the Jury. Through the primary, second-round and final-round selections, 15 films were shortlisted for ten Tiantan Awards: Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Music and Best Visual Effects. In the meantime, the trophy of Tiantan Award was unveiled. The trophy has an overall height of 45 centimeters, a base height of 9 centimeters and a body height of 36 centimeters, all of which are multiplies of “9”, showing the supremacy of Tiantan Award. The setup of Tiantan Award shows the improvement in the professionalism of the BJIFF. As of the 9th BJIFF, over 4,000 films from over 90 countries and regions have entered the selection, nearly 50 world-renowned directors and film masters have been invited as judges for Tiantan Award.
The 4th BJIFF: RMB10 billion contracted
The Beijing Film Market developed from the Negotiation sector of the 1st BJIFF. The 3rd BJIFF Negotiation was renamed Beijing Film Market. At the 4th BJIFF, the transaction volume of the Beijing Film Market exceeded 10 billion yuan for the first time, reaching 10.521 billion yuan, setting a new record of market transaction volume in domestic film exhibitions. The 4th BJIFF Beijing Film Market was mainly divided into two parts: Film Factor Transaction Platform and Project Pitches Transaction Platform. It attracted a total of 248 exhibitors, including 123 domestic exhibitors and 125 international exhibitors. It’s the first time that the number of international exhibitors exceeded that of domestic exhibitors, from which it can be seen that the BJIFF had become more international and attracted more filmmakers from all over the world. The increase in the transaction volume also showed the improved marketization of the BJIFF. More and more filmmakers supplied each other’s needs at the BJIFF. Domestic and foreign filmmakers found partners to jointly develop projects at the BJIFF. For example, China Film Co., Ltd and Paramount Pictures announced co-production of the fantasy action film Marco Polo in 3D format, Fundamental Films and the French director Luc Besson announced co-production of the fantasy action film The Warriors Gate in 3D, and China and the United States announced co-production of Flying Tiger Heroes about a “flying squad”.
Moreover, the Beijing Film Market of the BJIFF provided more opportunities for young filmmakers. The “Project Pitches” section was further upgraded. The host invited senior filmmakers such as Peggy Chiao, Ellen Elisasoph and Teddy Chan to be the judges and give advice to young filmmakers. Young and inexperienced filmmakers also had the opportunity to be discovered by talent scouts at the Beijing Film Market of the BJIFF.
The 5th BJIFF: Master, Mass, Market
In 2015, the 5th BJIFF established the style of “Master, Mass, Market”. “Master” reflects the internationalization level and professional state of the BJIFF, showing its artistic merits; “Mass” reflects the brand influence of the BJIFF and the purpose of benefitting the people, showing its social value; and “Market” reflects the market vitality and industry recognition of the BJIFF, showing its commercial value. The 5th BJIFF invited more master filmmakers. For example, renowned French director Luc Besson served as the jury president, and Marco Muller, who once served as president of several international film festivals, became consultant to the 5th BJIFF. Moreover, the 5th BJIFF invited 15 world-renowned film festival presidents and directors to the activities of the BJIFF. To increase public participation, the 5th BJIFF started to use omnimedia extensively to promote the BJIFF. Besides, traditional media such as newspaper, radio and TV, network media also became a main force used to advance the BJIFF. The BJIFF made full use of its official Weibo account, WeiChat account, app and mainstream website and formed a multimedia communication layout, which helped further expand the BJIFF’s international communication reach and influence. In terms of marketization, the 5th BJIFF saw a big event: using international experience for reference, the BJIFF founded Beijing International Film Festival Co., Ltd., which joined the organizing mechanism of the BJIFF as a market player. Corporate operation can help reduce cost, improve efficiency and mobilize the commercial resources of the BJIFF more effectively, so international film festivals often adopt the corporate operation mode. The achievements of the BIJFF Beijing Film Market have verified the effectiveness of the mode. The 5th BIJFF attracted 275 registered exhibitors, up 11% from the BIJFF in the previous year. The number of international exhibitors, which exceeded that of domestic exhibitors again, was 140 from 25 countries and regions. The Project Pitches section collected 445 entries, a growth of over 100% for the second year straight. The final market transaction volume was RMB13.845 billion.
The 6th BJIFF: over RMB10 million at the box office
“Beijing Film Panorama” has always been the most popular section of the BJIFF among ordinary film fans. In 2016, the box office of the 6th “Beijing Film Panorama” exceeded RMB10 million. From April 8th to 23th, 2016, over 500 Chinese and foreign films selected by the BJIFF were shown in “Beijing Film Panorama”. 25 commercial cinemas and academic institutions and 5 universities put on over 1,000 screenings. The 6th “Beijing Film Panorama” set up 20 sections such as Award Winners, Restored Classics, Salute to Masters, Stage Images, Blockbusters, Global Vision and Great Documentaries, which included various themes such as “Classic Peking Opera Film Exhibition”, “National Centre for the Performing Arts Opera Film Exhibition”, “Celebrating the American Film Master Billy Wilder’s 110th Birthday”, “The 30th Anniversary of the Soviet Director Andrei Tarkovsky’s Death”, “Commemoration of the Japanese Director Yoshimitsu Morita” , “Celebrating the 100th Birthday of the Renowned Chinese Director Sang Gu” and “The 30th Anniversary of Huang Jianxin in the Business”. The 6th BJIFF “Beijing Film Panorama” adopted the market-oriented operation model for the first time by cooperating with “Micro Ticket + Gewara”, connecting online and offline ticketing channels and establishing a unified ticketing platform, so audiences could buy tickets online conveniently and quickly. That further improved the marketization of the BJIFF.
The 7th BJIFF: China speed
In 2017, as the BJIFF reached its seventh edition, this event has become one of international film festivals with the fastest development speed and great vitality in the world. Featuring the international lineup, the Jury of Tiantan Award consisted of Bille August, a well-known Danish director, who won two Golden Palms at the Festival de Cannes and Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, as the President, and other Jury members, including, Mabel Cheung, a female director from Hong Kong, China, Paolo Del Brocco, the famous Italian producer, Jiang Wenli, a Chinese actress, Radu Jude, a Romanian director, Rob Minkofff, an American director and Jean Reno, a French actor.In addition, the 7th BJIFF also attracted a number of famous Chinese and foreign filmmakers, including the famous Serbian director Emir Kusturica, Indian famous director, actor Aamir Khan, and Sylvia Chang, a director from Taiwan, China. Filmmakers both at home and abroad heaped praise upon this event. The famous Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore said, "The BJIFF represents the development of the Chinese film industry. It has found its proper position in the world. I like all unlimited possibilities emerging during the development period of the BJIFF, which demonstrates even more vitality than other well-established film festivals.” Christoph Waltz, the winner of the Best Actor at the Festival de Cannes, stated, “I have never expected it is such a grand event, you can find all the best things that should be in an international film festival here.” Meanwhile, young filmmakers also gathered at the 7th BJIFF. A total of 712 projects were received on the Project Pitches Platform, reaching a new high, up 5.6% from the previous edition. Moreover, 246 projects were applied by new studios owned by the post-80s and post-90s, accounting for 34.6% of the total. The BJIFF has become a platform that enables many young filmmakers to realize their dreams. In turn, their participation and vitality also witnessed the prodigious development of the BJIFF. Its growth speed and prosperity are attracting worldwide attention.
The 8th BJIFF: a record high
The 8th BJIFF has made great achievements, as evident by the total market signing amount of 26.082 billion yuan, which made the cumulative transaction total amount of all previous editions exceed 100 billion yuan. With a focus on the construction of film elements, project pitches, and film trading platform, the Beijing Film Market of the BJIFF has grown into one of the largest film markets in Asia. At that time, 4 industry conversations and 30 events and activities were held, which enabled 38 projects from 79 companies to enter into contract.With an aim to advance the development of the film industry, the 8th BJIFF opened five major sectors, namely, Exhibition, Project Pitches, Industry Conversations, Events & Activities and Contract Signing Ceremony. In this way, this event was upgraded to be a better barrier-free platform for domestic and foreign filmmakers. 220 domestic and foreign film & television companies and institutions registered in the market, among which 209 came to the scene of the Beijing Film Market. As the BJIFF is having more international influence, a multitude of filmmakers and film institutions at home and abroad have found partners here.At the same time, 722 projects participated in the Beijing Film Market Project Pitches at the 8th BJIFF, 20 outstanding projects were selected after several rounds of selection and 10 of them made it to the roadshow stage. In conclusion, the 8th BJIFF has provided a broad platform for film industry cooperation and resource integration to facilitate the development of the Chinese film industry. This year, the transaction total amount of the Beijing Film Market hit a new high, reflecting the further expansion of the influence of the BJIFF.
The 9th BJIFF: Themed “Home·Land”
The 9th Beijing International Film Festival coincides with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. At this important occasion, the BJIFF is planning activities themed "Home·Land" as a tribute to the 70th anniversary of the founding of New China. “Beijing Film Panorama” sets up a special exhibition celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of New China, which collects many excellent domestic films from the beginning of the founding of New China in 1949 to now. It not only reflects the development of China's film industry, but also demonstrates a magnificent picture of the times. The Film Carnival of Beijing International Film Festival also takes "Prosperity and Harmony, Light and Shadow of Huairou" as its theme, setting up six major sections, including Light and Shadow of Century, Film Technology Experience, Folk Film & TV Scenes, Film & TV Role Cruise, Film Art Palace, Film-inspired Food, totaling 27 activities. The rich and colorful cultural activities for the benefit of the people effectively reflect the development of China's film industry and highlight the progress of China's socialist ideology development. Domestic films The Composer, The Wandering Earth and The Eleventh Chapter, which were selected for the “Tiantan Award” in the 9th Beijing International Film Festival, also reflect the Home·Land sentiment of Chinese filmmakers. The Composer, recounting the story of Xian Xinghai's creation of Yellow River Cantata, is full of deep feelings for the motherland; The Wandering Earth boldly challenges science fiction themes and achieves a breakthrough in China's film industry; The Eleventh Chapter is a creative exploration of Chinese art film, which tries to give consideration to both commercial success and self-expression. These films are full of sentiment for home and country in their respective fields of expertise and contribute to the strength of the motherland. The Beijing International Film Festival also sets up a "The Chinese Films Forum for the 70th Anniversary year of the People's Republic of China". In the forum, the guests express their opinions, retrospect at each important historical event in China, demonstrate their deep love for the country with light and shadow, discuss on what Chinese films are like today, and how contemporary Chinese filmmakers express the mainstream value of contemporary China in their films.
The 10th BJIFF: International level, Chinese characteristics, Beijing style
Nine years have passed, and as we bid farewell to the 9th Beijing International Film Festival, we are also looking forward to the 10th Film Festival. During the 9th Beijing International Film Festival, a total of 2,567 media organizations and a total of 9,294 people were registered. More than 4,000 films were submitted for the “Tiantan Award”, including more than 1,000 domestic films. More than 2,900 films were shown in “Beijing Film Panorama”, and nearly 5,100 exhibitions and events were held. The market contract amount increases year by year, with accumulative total of 131.939 billion yuan. These figures are a testament to the steady growth of the film festival into a world-renowned gala. We look forward to our reunion with the 10th Beijing International Film Festival and are heartened by its consistent improvement. With “international standard, Chinese characteristics and Beijing style" as its pursuit, Beijing International Film Festival will be even better next year.