Bridge Chinese and International Film Cultures with a Core Concept
The goal of Beijing International Film Festival is to “Share the Screen, Shape the Future.” The film festival aims to be international, professional, innovative, high-end and market- oriented. It is an important platform to promote the development of China’s film industry, and encourage the communication between Chinese and foreign movies.
In April 2013, at the 3rd Beijing International Film Festival, the organizing committee introduced the Tiantan Award to the competition department, hoping to further enhance the professionalism, authority, and influence of the film festival. Meanwhile, they also came up with the core concept of “Beauty in Variety, Harmony in Diversity.”
These simple words reveal the film festival’s distinctive emphasis on culture and its rich essence. The core concept inherits the value of traditional Chinese culture, highlights the harmonious relationship between humans andnature, and also profoundly reflects the very idea of appreciating and accepting differences. It presents a special national character, and also a broad international perspective. It represents the brightness of Chinese people, and a universal ideal for all human beings. “Harmony in Diversity,” the foundation of Chinese philosophy, shows how Chinese people pursue the harmonious relationship between humans and nature, the highest standard of sustainable development, and the hope for harmonious development and win-win collaboration.
“Beauty in Variety” originates from the well- received sociologist Fei Xiaotong’s thoughts on how to react to cultural differences:“All cultures appreciate their own beauty and that in others; different beauties coexist and work together to create the best world.” This idea indicates communication between cultures, and promote common development. that we shall respect cultural diversity, respect and develop our own national culture, respect cultures of different ethnic groups, facilitate the Looking back at the movies that won the Tiantan Award in the past, we can see how this core concept has been incorporated into these films. Films that won the Best Feature Film of Tiantan Award, such as The Beginning of Time, Paulina, and Luka, all deliver a strong humanitarian message. The humanitarian concerns are conveyed through characters’ yearning for life, and through their effort to regain control of their destiny. With a historical and philosophical perspective, these movies examine humanity and the society, explore ways to solve conflicts between humans and nature, and between humans and society. Filmmakers are looking for ways to respect life. Fundamentally, this approach is related to the philosophy of “Harmony in Diversity.”
Following the idea of “Beauty in Variety,” Beijing International Film Festival welcomes all kinds of movies, regardless of their countries, genres and themes. Movies selected by the film festival show the diversity of Tiantan Award, as they represent distinctive cultural backgrounds, and present unique cinematic styles.
This year, 659 films from six continents and 71 countries and regions were submitted to the Beijing International Film Festival Tiantan Award. Compared to last year, the number of film entries has increased by 235. In 2018, 15 films from 19 countries and regions have been accepted for the competition department of the Tiantan Award, which is held from April 13 to 22 in Beijing. Audience will have the opportunity to watch these movies during the film festival.
With Professionalism and Diversity, BJIFF Looks for the Best in World Cinema
Time flies. Tiantan Award has been held successfully for six years. Aiming to be professional and diverse, the award encourages Chinese filmmakers to think globally, and provides a platform for film talents all over the world to communicate. In the contemporary society where technology develops rapidly, the over-100-year-old film industry witnesses cinematic innovations here in Beijing.
However, no matter how the world changes, Tiantan Award, which proactively promotes cultural exchanges in the film industry, has always supported both professionalism and diversity.
Therefore, we saw that the Tiantan Award was given to the historical movie, Back to 1942, which serves as an elegy of the country’s thorny history, and a wake-up call for the contemporary society. We also saw The Grandmaster, which explores the essence of the long-lasting Chinese culture, and gives a special presentation of Chinese philosophy. We also saw Wolf Totem, a film that shows the way the Chinese honors traditional culture, and explores the future.
Looking back at the development of Beijing International Film Festival Tiantan Award, we find that when we review a movie, we look beyond professional techniques in filmmaking. From Back to 1942 and Wolf Totem, to Hold Your Hands and Operation Red Sea, nominated Chinese films represent different stages of the Chinese society at different times. The same is true for foreign movies. Filmmakers use their own ideas to reflect the social conditions in their own countries, and spread their cultures to the world.
Different cultures converge at Beijing International Film Festival, representing another important trait of the festival: cultural diversity. The establishment of Tiantan Award is not only a major driving force behind Chinese cinema’s “Go Global” policy, which enables the world to see our stories, hear our voices and witness our pride, but also a vehicle to “Bring In” cinemas from other countries and let us hear and see stories from all around the world in the comfort of our own city.
To Witness and Promote, Chinese Cinema Shines at BJIFF
In the past few years, Chinese filmmakers have kept pursuing their artisan spirit by refining their works to the tiniest details. From a perhaps unnoticeable shot, to a small fragment of sound and to a single line of dialogue, filmmakers meticulously craft their films, hoping to be the best in their field. Their professional attitude brings our national culture into the art of filmmaking and their stories of lights and shadows continue to bind together and inspire people of all ethnic backgrounds.
Since 2010, the Chinese film market has shown unprecedented growth and vitality. China’s box office has repeatedly broken records and set new highs. Driven by the socialist cultural developments with Chinese characteristics, the Chinese film industry has entered a golden era of rapid growth. Chinese films have since received more international attention than ever before, and our global influence has been increasing by the day.
Tiantan Award is a witness of the ever- evolving contemporary Chinese film industry. Since 2013, a number of brilliant films have won important awards at the Beijing International Film Festivals, including Back to 1942, Feng Shui, The Grandmaster, American Dreams in China and Wolf Totem. Back to 1942 became the first film to ever win the Best Feature Film Tiantan Award. Wong Kar-wai, the jury president of this edition of BJIFF, won the second Best Director Tiantan Award with his film The Grandmaster.
There are two Chinese films in the Competition Department of this year’s Beijing International Film Festival: Hold Your Hands and Operation Red Sea. Each film in its own way depicts the realities and characteristics of the current Chinese society.
Hold Your Hands perfectly illustrates how the mountain folks could win a tough battle against poverty while at the same time elevate their spiritual lives under the policy of “taking targeted measures in poverty alleviation.” At the time of its release in 2017, Hold Your Hands grossed over 100 million Yuan in box office,which was considered a “hit” among films of the same genre. The fact that a film which depicts the construction of China's new countryside has achieved such success is a testament to how issues reflected in Chinese films are more and more in line with the needs of the people and a testament to a major step forward in Chinese filmmaking since Reform and Opening-up.
Operation Red Sea, however, is a mainstream action film about the modernized Chinese Navy. Its successful box office and good reviews represent a major breakthrough for mainstream movies in recent years. The production team of Operation Red Sea closely combines the production methods of genre films with a unique Chinese story and China’s cultural characteristics. The film fully embodies our spirit of the zeitgeist and successfully integrates the techniques of commercial blockbusters, providing domestic productions with a new paradigm of filmmaking.
Operation Red Sea is not only a major hit in both box office and reviews in the domestic market, but it has also generated a lot of attention in the foreign market, breaking foreign audience's stereotype of Chinese culture. The film integrates our mainstream values into its storytelling and presents it to the world, demonstrating Chinese filmmakers' creative stance—that is: with what kind of spirit do we enter into a new era, with what kind of attitude and with what kind of works do we respond to the era’s unique cultural landscape.
This year, a total of 659 films from 71 different countries and regions were submitted to this edition of the Tiantan Award at Beijing International Film Festival, among which 127 are domestic productions and 532 are from overseas (including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan). The submitted films touch upon a great variety of subject matters and are diverse in themes and styles.
After five rounds of the selection process, 15 films from 19 countries and regions entered the competition. Operation Red Sea and Hold Your Hands will compete for the Tiantan Award, along with 13 other movies.
In the end, no matter which films are able to garner awards at the Tiantan Award, they all deserve our respect. Cultures from different countries exchange on this stage. History and modernity meet at the festival. Tiantan Award provides a much broader stage for cinema and that’s the real meaning of BJIFF. Not only do we examine and showcase our brilliant cinematic outlook since Reform and Opening- up, but we are also making great contributions to the spiritual and cultural communications all around the world.
In China, after forty years of Reform and Opening-up, there will be many more forty years ahead. After the curtain closes at this year’s BJIFF, the exchange of film culture will continue. The Tiantan Award not only helps to promote Chinese film industry and film culture, but also provides international filmmakers with a window to better understand the Chinese culture. It has become a unique platform where worldwide cultural communications take place, enhancing dialogue, business and cooperation among filmmakers. As the influence of Beijing International Film Festival grows by the year, the Tiantan Award is having a profound impact on the international cinematic culture.