Concerted Efforts, Bright Future: 13th BJIFF Ends on High Note, Winners of 10 Tiantan Award Categories Announced
With the rhythm of light and shadow, the Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) has now been held for 13 years in a row, leaving a successful and exciting “story of time” in installments. The 13th edition, guided by the China Film Administration and co-hosted by China Media Group and the People’s Government of Beijing Municipality, concluded with a resounding success. The filmmakers from home and abroad heeded the call of the BJIFF to form the pageantry of pursuing the shared dream about film during an eight-day session, pulling together to be a force that warms the world and keeping the light of cinema alive to illuminate the distant future.
Fully returning to its in-person roots in April after a gap of three years, this year’s BJIFF, characterized by international identity, professionalism, and popular participation, infused world cinema with new vitality and growth drivers. It has evolved into an important vehicle for China to participate in globalization and exert international influence and an annual grand festival, contributing to the ever-increasing charm of Beijing, the world’s historical and cultural city and the only “Dual Olympic City” globally.
Scene of the Closing & Awards Ceremony of the 13th BJIFF
▍The Tiantan Award serves as a bridge to promote universal communication, demonstrating the confidence of Chinese culture
The 13th BJIFF established itself as an important platform for inter-cultural dialogues by inviting the outstanding filmmakers from all over the world, pulling together the well-made films from all over the world, and boosting exchanges and mutual learning among countries.
This year’s Tiantwan Award, the Competition Section of the BJIFF, received 1,488 submissions from 93 countries and regions, of which foreign films accounted for more than 80%, showing a positive sign of rapid rise in quantity, diversification in style and genre, and high production standards. It saw an A-list jury lineup of seven headliner filmmakers at home and abroad, staying ahead of the curve in the industry with a professional perspective.
On the night of the Closing & Awards Ceremony, all the jury members led by Zhang Yimou who chaired this year’s international jury made an appearance. And the short clips from the selected films allowed people to see the films from all over the world do justice to the best ever synergy in cinematic styles.
The Tiantan Award Jury making an appearance
At the ceremony site, the trophy tailored to the Tiantan Award, which speaks to an honor, a recognition and a new starting point, was unveiled, and the winners of the ten categories were announced. The awarding of the Tiantan Award honors was a demonstration of the core value of “Beauty in Variety, Harmony in Diversity”, of the cultural confidence of Chinese cinema, and that Chinese filmmakers have been working with global counterparts to create a cultural landscape among civilizations.
The awarding started with the winner of Best Supporting Actress announced by Singaporean director Anthony Chen and Mei Ting, which went to Montserrat Marañon in Totem, followed by Israeli director Nadav Lapid and Wang Baoqiang announcing Tian Zhuangzhuang as the winner of Best Supporting Actor for The Shadowless Tower. When asked by Wang Baoqiang how he thought of the relationship between leading and supporting actors, Lapid wisely replied, “It’s just as everyone is the protagonist of his or her own life, and that’s exactly how they can be good supporting actors.”
Anthony Chen and Mei Ting presenting the Best Supporting Actress award
Montserrat Marañon awarded Best Supporting Actress for Totem
Nadav Lapid and Wang Baoqiang presenting the Best Supporting Actor award to The Shadowless Tower
Great film music is not an “off-screen voice”, but an “in-screen emotion”. Dong Dongdong, Chen Xi, and Zhou Shen announced the winner of Best Music, which was awarded to Thomas Becka for Totem. Zhao Xiaoding and Thai director Pimpaka Towira presented the Best Cinematography award to Piao Songri for The Shadowless Tower. Alec Su said to screenwriter Lu Wei that the meeting of a great director and a great screenwriter is a kind of fate, from both of whom Zhang Lü received the trophy representing Best Screenplay for The Shadowless Tower. Chen Yan, vice president of the China Writers Association, and Zhang Songwen announced the winner of Best Artistic Contribution, which was taken by The Shadowless Tower, and Zhang said that this award is a recognition of the creativity of filmmakers.
Dong Dongdong, Chen Xi, and Zhou Shen presenting the Best Music award to Totem
Pimpaka Towira and Zhao Xiaoding presenting the Best Cinematography award
Piao Songri awarded the Best Cinematography for The Shadowless Tower
Alec Su and Lu Wei presenting the Best Screenplay award
Zhang Lü awarded the Best Screenplay for The Shadowless Tower
Chen Yan and Zhang Songwen presenting the Best Artistic Contribution award
The Shadowless Tower awarded the Best Artistic Contribution
With the remarks on female filmmakers’ understanding and empathy for acting, Wu Yanshu and Zhou Dongyu revealed the winner of Best Actress, which was shared by Antonia Zegers for The Punishment and Line Renaud for Driving Madeleine, which represented the first co-win of Best Actress at the BJIFF of all times. Stanley Kwan and Karen Mok presented the Best Actor to Xin Baiqing in The Shadowless Tower. Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Argentine film critic Fernando E. Juan Lima, President of the Mar del Plata International Film Festival, unveiled the winner of Best Director, which went to Lila Avilés for Totem. In the atmosphere of tacit partnership and humorous conversation, Ge You and Zhang Yimou announced the winner of Best Feature Film which was awarded to The Punishment. In Ge’s view, the criterion for measuring a great film is to “compare”—which film dares to let the audiences leave the seats to eat popcorn, drink water, and answer a call of nature in a 20-minute break halfway the screening and the key is that all of these audiences return to their seats again.
Wu Yanshu and Zhou Dongyu presenting the Best Actress award
The Punishment and Driving Madeleine as the co-winners of Best Actress
Stanley Kwan and Karen MoK presenting the Best Actor to Xin Baiqing for The Shadowless Tower
Xin Baiqing awarded the Best Actor for The Shadowless Tower
Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Fernando E. Juan Lima presenting the Best Director award to Lila Avilés for Totem
Zhang Yimou and Ge You presenting the Best Feature Film award
Best Feature Film went to The Punishment
This year’s BJIFF also honored director Zhang Yimou with the Lifetime Achievement Award, who received the trophy from his friend Chen Daoming. In the short video in a nod to Zhang, people could strongly feel the talent of Zhang as the pioneer of the fifth generation of Chinese directors and his unceasing steps. Just as he stated, “Film is something made for the heart.” Today, he still keeps his passion for film, expanding the artistic space of cinema and inspiring more Chinese filmmakers to move forward. At the awards ceremony, all the filmmakers and guests present stood up to give him a great ovation and best wishes. He modestly said that this award should be called “Lifetime Learning Award” or “Lifetime Persistence Award”.
Chen Daoming presenting Lifetime Achievement Award to Zhang Yimou
▍Close connection with filmmakers globally and living embodiment of the development of times
A city is a film. The Closing & Awards Ceremony of the 13th BJIFF used movies to connect time, vividly presenting what achievements have been made in the times and creating an ideal footnote for Beijing as a “cultural center and international communication center”.
The ceremony was hosted by Nëghmet Raxman, Lan Yu, Li Jie, and Yueyue, joined by filmmaker representatives He Bing and Guan Xiaotong who introduced the content of the programs. The narration video Swifts Return in Spring was dubbed by actress Zhou Xun, who also read the narration, giving an account of the touching and romance of the film in people’s minds. The trophy designed for the Tiantan Award made a shining appearance with the song sung by two little actors, Wang Shengdi and Zheng Haosen—a scene that showed the passing of the torch of film. Yang Kun performed an affecting song called A Little Red Flower, comforting filmmakers’ hardships along the way and appreciating their courage and resilience.
Zheng Haosen and Wang Shengdi singing Swifts Return in Spring
Yang Kun singing A Little Red Flower
The film is a cause and more of a faith. To choose a career in film is to choose a lifetime of chasing light, during which filmmakers do their best with no regrets. Zhou Shen performed a song titled Light in a tribute to the departed filmmakers, thanking them for lighting up the people’s inner worlds ever with their works, and at the same time, there were familiar faces appearing on the big screen, evoking the nostalgia of the attendees. Lin Miaoke, Lin Hao, Li Huafei, Wu Haishi, Tang Yaning, Chai Song, Zhang Huike, Li Zhenqiang, and Li Zhenfang, whom once worked with Zhang Yimou in film or in the opening ceremonies of the “two Olympics” in Beijing, as well as the little “dove” performers at the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and The Malanhua Children’s Choir, presented a gift to Zhang Yimou by performing a song, which also inspired filmmakers to commit themselves on the road ahead. Hu Lan’s stand-up comedy Not One Less made people laugh and feel that the brilliance of film art that would not be possible without the persistent efforts of filmmakers as well as all of those people in front of and behind the scenes. Mao Amin’s performance of The Promise of the Tiantan Award conveyed the longing and aspiration for the future of Chinese cinema, and filmmakers’ expectations for the “annual meeting” at the BJIFF.
Zhou Shen singing Light
Hu Lan performing a stand-up comedy, Not One Less
Mao Amin singing The Promise of the Tiantwan Award
The cast & crew members of Born to Fly, one of the closing films, including Liu Xiaoshi, Wang Yibo, Yu Shi, Zhai Yujia, Wang Zichen, and Lu Xin, appeared at the awards ceremony. During the upcoming screening period starting from the May Day holiday, Born to Fly, a youthful and passionate inspirational blockbuster that highlights the lofty sentiments of Chinese cinema soaring to great heights, will “navigate” more Chinese films to be brave to pursue their dreams and create new miracles.
Cast & crew members of Born to Fly
▍Extensive applause for public benefit with culture with unlimited potential in Chinese film market
The BJIFF always keeps its promise of inviting movie fans to “enjoy the best films in Beijing”, which has been recognized and praised by movie fans. Over the past thirteen years, the BJIFF launched over 10,000 showings of more than 4,000 Chinese and foreign films. This year, a total of 180-plus outstanding Chinese and foreign films were selected for the Beijing Film Panorama section to be screened in 28 partner theaters and experience spaces, with tickets to be sold out in an unprecedented speed on the very first day of release. The tickets for 4K digital version of A City of Sadness and A Moment of Romance as well as IMAX 2001: A Space Odyssey were sold out in just ten seconds. In terms of the age distribution of buyers, those aged below 25 increased by 11% over last year, showing the booming momentum and huge potential of the Chinese film market.
The much-anticipated films shortlisted in the Competition Section, Tiantan Award and the entries to Forward Future section arouse the zeal of the audience. The 13th BJIFF was also set with special screening and post-screening exchange sessions for shortlisted films, during which the three Chinese shortlists, Lost in the Stars, Ciao, and The Shadowless Tower attracted a large number of fans, which highlighted the audience's great expectation and confidence for Chinese films. An increasing number of "Chinese stories" are going global through the BJIFF to make the voice of China heard.
Post-screening of Lost in the Stars
Post-screening of Ciao
Post-screening of The Shadowless Tower
In addition to the classical sections, Beijing Film Panorama specially design several themes, including “B&R Asian Vision LENOVO Special Presentation”, based on the previous classic sections to offer a unique, diverse and immersive watching experience for all. A variety of excellent films offered a feast to audiences on an unforgettable journey through the world’s films. The Online Screening section continued to share the films with the audience in China on streaming platforms.
BJIFF played an important role in the global XR ecology. The 13th BJIFF Beijing Film Panorama explored diverse narratives and extended the boundaries of the metaverse development.
▍Growing into a film power with strong impetus to global communication on films
The 13th BJIFF, under the brand of "Film Power Forum", designed three core forums providing a multi-dimensional path for the development of Chinese film industry towards a higher level and greater prosperity that highlights the international, professional and leading effect.
The Film Power Forum on Industry—Projecting Your Stories Across Seas explored how to make good use of film as the medium of the world, show a more real, stereoscopic and comprehensive China in the changing light and shadow, promote the exchange and sharing of films around the world, as well as the integration and mutual learning of human civilizations.
The Film Power Forum on International Cooperation—Cultural Exchange with Films features a broaden horizon and creative thoughts, and delivered a firm believe that the film industry will be able to open a new chapter in the changing situation, reach new heights, and create a better future.
The Film Power Forum on Creativity—Exploration, Pursuit and Creation of Realistic Films actively attempted to seek a narrative system that can promote Chinese realistic films to go global in the future while adapting to the society in the new era.
Film Power Forum on Industry—Projecting Your Stories Across Seas
Film Power Forum on International Cooperation—Cultural Exchange with Films
Film Power Forum on Creativity—Exploration, Pursuit and Creation of Realistic Films
Zhang Yimou, Chinese director, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkish director and screenwriter, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, German director and screenwriter, and Yonfan, cinematographer, director and writer from Hong Kong, China, presented four outstanding workshops & masterclasses with valuable comments and instructions for film practitioners.
Zhang Yimou Workshop & Masterclass
Nuri Bilge Ceylan Workshop & Masterclass
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck Workshop & Masterclass
Yonfan Workshop & Masterclass
The three special forums, China Film Investment and Financing Summit, Young Filmmakers Forum, and China Film Capital Development Forum, have made meaningful explorations on both theories and practices with focus on hot issues and cutting-edge ideas from the industry, in a bid to encourage Chinese filmmakers to join hands to create more achievements towards a brighter future.
▍Innovation of industrial chain for an everlasting film festival
The 13th BJIFF Beijing Film Market restarted its offline activities by integrating high-quality resources from the whole industry chain at home and abroad, making it a beacon of the domestic film market and an important incubator for new filmmakers and new works that has been fully recognized by the industry.
Beijing Film Market recorded several "first times" this year. It was the first time that the venue was relocated to Langyuan Station in Chaoyang District, a popular spot for netizens, with five sections and three platforms. It was the first time that a Cultural Derivative Exhibition was held that drove the cultural consumption. It was the first time that a Chief Producer Team was formed to activate film & TV resources to pave the way for creators and markets. Whilst deepening the cooperation with Beijing International Sports Film Week, the Sports Film Project Support Fund was also established in collaboration with the Project Pitches.
Beijing Film Market
▍Power of youth as the “cradle” for filmmakers
BJIFF has been actively promoting film exchanges and training young film talents. With sincerity towards young directors, BJIFF has developed a "positive cycle" for them. The 13th BJIFF Project Pitches features the "strongest jury lineup" over the years, with Peter Chan, famous director from Hong Kong, China, as the President to discover new works and encourage young filmmakers from the Chinese mainland to explore new modes of cooperation. With constant exchange on talent training, the first contract concluded with Hong Kong International Film Festival last year finally paid off: Four Hong Kong projects (involvement by young filmmakers from Hong Kong, China) were shortlisted for the 13th BJIFF Project Pitches, and more contracts were concluded between the two film festivals.
The Forward Future section has attracted a number of young filmmakers at home and abroad. The ReelFocus features a strong line-up of guests to provide support and new opportunities for young filmmakers throughout the industry chain and build a marketplace for talent exchange. The young directors from the Project Pitches made great contributions to the BJIFF: Xu Lei made a short film for the theme of BJIFF, and Gu Xiaogang also participated in the Project Pitches as a jury for the second-round selection, which demonstrated the optimization of the training system for young directors. Through the screening of low- and mid-budget Chinese arthouse films and related forums also showcased and enhanced the creativity of young filmmakers to make more breakthroughs on such films. The China Documentary Films Screening Project further strengthened the influence of documentaries and promoted the high-quality development of Chinese documentaries in the new era. The Spring Job Fair was held to introduce more talented filmmakers with great vitality to the industry.
The Development Status and Outlet of Chinese Small and Medium-sized Cost Art Films
China Documentary Films Screening Project
This year, BJIFF also entered into several long-term cooperation agreements with industrial parks and International Cultural Original Youth Talent Parlor of Chaoyang District to organize venture capital sharing sessions and industry salons from time to time throughout the year to activate the film & TV resources to forge an “Everlasting BJIFF”.
The dynamic BJIFF has been gaining popularity with engagement of a large number of young talents. The 30th Beijing College Student Film Festival themed on “Establish Ourselves Towards the Light” contributed eight significant sections, providing a stage for outstanding Chinese films to showcase their excellence and introducing more talented filmmakers for the Chinese film industry for greater development. The involvement of 1,000 teachers and students from 100 universities has made BJIFF even more vibrant.
▍More innovative events and activities at the BJIFF to arouse new demands
On the basis of the nine main sections, the 13th BJIFF continues to develop new ideas, gain new audiences, and arouse new demands with higher quality of events and activities.
The Film Carnival provided more than 40 activities and nearly 100 projects in 19 venues to fully strengthen experience of film and television culture + entertainment in response to the call of “Spend Your Weekend at the Film Town”. A wealth of events and activities brought endless charm of film art.
A great variety of "Film+" events and activities added more appeal to the BJIFF. In addition to filmmaker music party at the highly anticipated China Beijing Film Night, there were some other amazing activities with vigorous creativity, including the “Love of Music” Film Soundtrack Concert, new Movement Section, Science and Technology Section, Documentary Section, Forward Future Section, Beijing Ethnic Film Festival, “Brands Power Chinese Movies” Live Streaming for Nonprofits, Run for Fun, Forum on High-quality Development of Public Welfare Films, Metaverse Film Forum, Game-Based Animated Films Section, Female Film Section, Short Video Section, Filmmaker Frisbee Invitational Tournament, and 2nd ReelFocus Program. The warmth and charm, depth and strength of films were successfully transmitted and deepened.
China Beijing Film Night
▍Fruitful results with constant increase of reputation and influence
The cultural center of China and the center of international exchanges, Beijing is the birthplace of Chinese films and the most dynamic city for the development of contemporary Chinese films. As a cultural name card of Beijing to the world, BJIFF continues to enhance its internationalization and specialization, with the increasing reputation and influence across the globe.
The Guest of Honor, Thailand, actively organized film and television delegations to BJIFF. Meanwhile, BJIFF deepened its long-term cooperation with such festivals and institutions as the Hanoi International Film Festival, Vietnam and the China-ASEAN Center for more successful and effective communication between China and the world in films.
The 13th BJIFF also showcased the fruitful results of the innovative integration of Chinese and foreign culture with solemn and warm reception and organization, which earning it global acclaim. A total of 431 media with 1,273 journalists and reporters from 16 countries and regions were registered. As of 5:00PM on April 29, 2023, over 20,000 media reported this grand event, with 38,630,000 posts and messages forwarded online, including 3,666 reports from foreign media in 30 languages from 28 countries and regions. A total of 1,401 trending topics on BJIFF were recorded online, and over 8.6 billion reads on the main topic were logged on Weibo. Hundreds of millions of screens and boards were distributed widely to publicize the event, increasing its popularity among all circles of the society.
13th BJIFF Tiantan Award International Jury Press Conference
In addition, BJIFF launched a lot of cinematic quality contents. The first posters “Spring is Coming”, like a long poem in praise of spring for the film industry, was highly appreciated once released on social media; the themed short film The Big Order in Spring conveyed the symbolic meaning for the expected recovery of all the industries, which received a high number of hits online; and the highly accepted promotion song Remember When highlighted the spirit of filmmakers to be fearless of any challenges. The Tiantan Award Official Selection Media Catalogue features a stronger lineup and panel with broader perspective for film selection. The products of special features and new media were launched in cooperation with China Daily and other media, and a special section of the BJIFF was launched on the multimedia platform of 374 Air China passenger planes to provide more channels for the public's participation in BJIFF.
Themed Video—The Big Order in Spring; Promotion Song—Remember When
Various events and activities of BJIFF attracted thousands of foreign media, with in-depth coverage on international jury, international films, guests of Workshop & Masterclass, international film & television companies, foreign language film screening, and Guest of Honor. The themed video was also played on NASDAQ screen in New York, indicating a successful telling of China's story and spreading of China's voice. In addition, such mainstream media as Xinwen Lianbo, Topics in Focus, and People's Daily, Xinhua News Agency, Xuexi Qiangguo, Guangming Daily, Beijing Daily, Beijing Youth Daily, and The Beijing News spoke highly of the 13th BJIFF, in addition to the special reports by media from Guangdong, Zhejiang, Hunan, Sichuan, Fujian, Shanxi and other provinces and cities as well as dozens of professional media from different perspectives.
Wherever and whenever we are, films will always be the beacon to our brighter future! Over the successful conclusion, the 13th BJIFF has extended its influence a broader time and space, with unlimited potential and creativity to the film industry towards perpetual prosperity. The Chinese filmmakers will always be courageous and persevering to depict more stories for filmdom with great passion and dedication.