Spring's gentle breeze brings warmth and vitality, fostering a thriving atmosphere. The 14th Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) drew to a close on April 26, 2024, leaving behind the beginning of cinematic narratives in Beijing. It is believed that these narratives will captivate audiences across the globe with enchanting visuals and melodic musical notes.
  Closing ceremony of the 14th BJIFF
As the curtains closed, the red carpet for the closing ceremony saw the glamorous presence of members of cast & crew with shortlisted films from both home and abroad. They showcased their vibrant spirit and graceful charm to the world, leaving a remarkable impression with their stunning talent and unwavering confidence. The lineup of award presenters was equally star-studded, featuring celebrated filmmakers such as Emir Kusturica, Zhang Yimou, Jiang Wen, Kris Phillips, Joan Chen, and more.
To propel the flourishing development of the film industry, this year's BJIFF, under the theme "Enlightened by Films, United as One", served as a platform for fostering international exchanges and interactions in the realm of cinematic arts, while elevating its international and professional standards with an ongoing commitment to accessibility to all. In this context, the festival has not only showcased the cultural soft power and international influence of the capital city but has also contributed to the advancement and development of Beijing as a leading hub for the film and television sector.
▌Embracing the Spirit of Spring: Oriental Flavors Emerge in Spectacular Stage Settings
The 14th BJIFF concluded on a high note with its closing ceremony, themed "Sharing Beijing's Spring Breeze with the World". In alignment with the BJIFF's core principles of "Beauty in Variety, Harmony in Diversity", the entire event delivered a vibrant and delightful atmosphere by employing the symbols of spring breeze, windmills, and swifts. The windmill, an emblematic feature of the BJIFF, holds a special significance as a gift for the award recipients, denoting blessings and aspirations for accomplished filmmakers from all corners of the world. Moreover, the swift, a representative species of Beijing, signifies good luck and auspiciousness. Gracefully taking on the role of a messenger of these optimistic prospects, the "swift" presented the "windmill" to the award recipients on stage.
  Closing ceremony of the 14th BJIFF
Prior to the commencement of the closing ceremony, a recap short video titled Share the Spring in the Name of Cinema specially produced for this edition of BJIFF, was screened on the big screen. In the short video, a parallel is neatly drawn between the various events & activities of the BJIFF and the gentle breeze of spring. Just like the tender warmth of spring, these events & activities nurture and inspire both local and international filmmakers alike. In the embrace of a delightful scene and an atmosphere brimming with cinematic delights, we enjoyed this cinematic journey that wove together the essence of spring and the vibrant narrative of the film festival.
  Ayungg-a sang Spring Breeze Comes for Me
The performance of The Song of Time by Jane Zhang offered a nostalgic glimpse into the classic works that have shaped the evolution of cinema. By intertwining the three rich and complete elements of the singer's vocals, the visual interpretations, and the expressive movements of the dancers, a seamless river of artistry flowed on stage, symbolizing the fluidity and continuum of cinematic art history. Zhou Shen delivered a melodious and soul-stirring rendition of the song Expectation, paying tribute to the filmmakers who have left us with everlasting memories.
  Jane Zhang sang The Song of Time
  Zhou Shen sang Expectation
▌"Tiantan Award" Winners Unveiled: A Resounding Salute to the Global Filmmakers with a Persistent Pursuit
Into its 14th year, the BJIFF has been lauded and recognized in the global film arena, with a growing number of film entries each year. The Tiantan Award, Competition Section embodies the festival's discernment and principles, playing a crucial role in promoting cultural exchange between China and the world.
The current edition of the BJIFF attracted 1,509 film submissions with a diverse array of genres and styles from 118 countries and regions, featuring 191 Chinese films and 1,318 international films. Seven filmmakers renowned for their artistic excellence and global reach, led by Serbian director Emir Kusturica, were invited by the organizing committee to form the jury of the Tiantan Award.
  Jury of the Tiantan Award
Prior to the official awards presentation, a creative and distinctive gift was arranged for director Emir Kusturica, who traveled from a distant location to be present at the festival. A kid, Yueyue, stepped onto the stage and fell into the embrace of Kusturica, affectionately referring to him as "grandpa", before presenting him with a gift of a windmill. This touching moment of genuine interaction transcended barriers of nationality, race, language, and age, bringing warmth to the stage.
  玥Yueyue presented the windmill as a gift to Emir Kusturica
On the day of the Closing & Awards Ceremony, actress Joan Chen marked her 63rd birthday. The organizing committee prepared a special tribute in the form of a short video titled Everlasting Xiao Hua, Best Youth, chronicling her journey into acting from the innocent girl in Xiao Hua to the ill-fated Wan Jung in The Last Emperor and a resilient female character in Under the Light. This tribute honored her portrayal of classic roles and highlighted the brilliance and challenges in her acting career.
  The Organizing Committee celebrated Joan Chen's birthday
Known as a beloved Chinese-language idol, Kris Phillips has embraced the mission of promoting cultural fusion and resonance between East and West. Through his exceptional performances, he showcases the charm of an actor from the East to audiences worldwide. Facing the young award-winning actors, he shared his experience of portraying antagonistic roles vividly and fully—respecting the character and rising to the challenge.
Long Fei's directorial film, Gold or Shit, took home the Tiantan Award for Best Feature Film. The film vividly depicts the story of a young protagonist who, experiencing setbacks both in his professional and personal lives, returns to his hometown. Supported by family and friends, he sets out to chase his dreams in the world of cinema. With a light-hearted and humorous tone, the film fearlessly tackles weighty themes of death and failure with a skillful approach. Furthermore, Gold or Shit claimed victory in two more categories, Best Supporting Actress and Best Screenplay, adding to its accomplishments. In her role as "Wu Di's mother", actress Yue Hong delivers a nuanced performance, capturing the essence of a kind yet strong-willed female character with her exquisite acting skills. Collaborating since their early days, screenwriter Huang Jia and director Long Fei have formed a synergistic partnership. Gold or Shit is their second feature film collaboration, exemplifying the insights and contemplations of the new generation of filmmakers on the social landscape.
  Best Feature Film presenters Zhang Yimou, Emir Kusturica, and Jiang Wen
  Best Feature Film Gold or Shit
  Best Supporting Actress presenters Yan Ni and Yao Chen
  Best Supporting Actress winner Yue Hong
  Best Screenplay presenters Zhang Ji and Yang Zishan
  Best Screenplay winner Huang Jia
The Indian film Stolen triumphed in three significant categories, namely, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Cinematography. Director Karan Tejpal made his debut with this feature film, seamlessly blending the alarming issue of child trafficking in Indian society with the elements of a thrilling, suspenseful, and chase-driven storyline. Lead actress Mia Maelzer surprises viewers with her portrayal of strength, despite her outwardly delicate demeanor, which shines through during crucial moments. Cinematographer Isshaan Ghosh employs an innovative combination of handheld photography, enigmatic night scenes, and complex spatial composition, effectively heightening the film's tension.
  Best Director presenters Andrew Lau and Cao Baoping 

  The Best Director award received by producer Gaurav Dhingra of Stolen on behalf of director Karan Tejpal

  Best Actress presenters Kris Phillips and Zheng Baorui

  The Best Actress award received by screenwriter Swapnil Salkar of Stolen on behalf of actress Mia Maelzer

  Best Cinematography presenters Kees Van Oostrum and Mark Lee Ping Bing

  The Best Cinematography award received by producer Gaurav Dhingra of Stolen on behalf of cinematographer Isshaan Ghosh
The portrayal of "Old Qin" by actor Fan Wei in Strangers When We Meet earned him the Best Actor award at this year's BJIFF, marking his second Tiantan Award win following his previous success in Mr. No Problem. In the film, his portrayal is richly textured, capturing the generosity, empathy, and loneliness of a marginalized character with great attention to detail.
  Best Actor presenters Joan Chen and Ma Li
  Best Actor winner Fan Wei
The Best Music award went to Marco Biscarini, the composer of the Finnish film Death Is a Problem for the Living. The film's score features captivating melodies that accurately serve the visual narrative, incorporating a touch of dark comedy and seamlessly blending elements of tension and warmth. Jari Virman, who starred in Death Is a Problem for the Living, was honored with Best Supporting Actor.
  Best Music presenters David White and Carlos Saldanha
  Best Music winner Marco Biscarini
  Best Supporting Actor presenters Zhu Yilong and Chen Shu
  Best Supporting Actor winner Jari Virman
The film All the Long Nights, directed by Shô Miyake, was recognized with the Best Artistic Contribution award.
  Best Artistic Contribution presenters Tony Leung and Zhang Hanyu
  Best Artistic Contribution award-winning film All the Long Nights
▌Highly Anticipated: Cast and Crew of The Volunteers: To the War 2 Assemble for Promotion
The suspense of the Tiantan Award reached its climax as all the winners were revealed, creating a wave of excitement at the closing ceremony. The cast and crew of the highly anticipated film The Volunteers: To the War 2 gathered at the BJIFF. Director Chen Kaige, along with the cast Zhu Yilong, Xin Baiqing, Zhang Zifeng, and Zhang Youhao, appeared on stage to greet the audience and introduce this emotionally resonant war epic.
  The cast & crew of The Volunteers: To the War 2
Following the precious stills from The Volunteers: To the War 2 were displayed on the big screen, several lead actors shared the stories behind these images. Zhu Yilong shared tenderly, "In this installment, Li Xiao and I depict siblings and comrades in arms simultaneously. This particular photo immortalizes a moment when we were a digging trench together. Despite the cruelty of war, the presence of family and comrades in arms provides endless courage and hope." Xin Baiqing, upon witnessing the scene where "Old Li" and "Little Li" reunite on the battlefield, expressed a profound sentiment, "To have a father and daughter fighting side by side, this battle to defend our country has brought their hearts even closer than ever before." "Little Li", played by Zhang Zifeng, bravely heads towards the battlefield, bringing a reunion amidst the raging war. "Third Brother Yang", portrayed by Zhang Youhao, underwent significant character development and resolved to memorize the faces of heroes through a collection of photographs.
  Leading actors of The Volunteers: To the War 2
Director Chen Kaige offered a live interpretation of the central narrative of The Volunteers: To the War 2 to the audience, highlighting the profound kinship and comradeship among this family and all the volunteer soldiers. The main war scene centers around the crucial Battle of Chorwon, where life and death hang in the balance. This is an epic film that explores the dynamics between individuals and the grim realities of war.
  Director Chen Kaige
In 2022, the epic trilogy The Volunteers: To the War commenced production, offering audiences a panoramic journey through the historical tumult of the great war to resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea. The upcoming second installment undoubtedly promises to be eagerly anticipated.
▌Lifetime Achievement Award: A Well-Deserved Recognition for an Enduring Legacy in the Film Industry
Director Chen Kaige has made indispensable contributions to both artistic innovation and commercial success, profoundly shaping Chinese cinematic aesthetics and sharing them with the world. He was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 14th BJIFF, acknowledging his outstanding accomplishments and the intensifying creative fervor he has displayed over the years.
  Li Xuejian presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Chen Kaige
Director Chen Kaige has made indispensable contributions to both artistic innovation and commercial success, profoundly shaping Chinese cinematic aesthetics and sharing them with the world. He was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 14th BJIFF, acknowledging his outstanding accomplishments and the intensifying creative fervor he has displayed over the years.
  Scene of the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award
At the closing ceremony, a VCR tape titled The Singer of Time paid tribute to Chen Kaige, guiding the audiences through the memorable milestones he has encountered along his remarkable path. Following this, actors who had collaborated with Chen on significant works such as Farewell My Concubine and Forever Enthralled as well as several close friends, including renowned literary and art workers Yu Shaoqun, Liu Peiqi, and Qu Xiaosong, took turns to share memories of their experiences and collaborations with the director.
  Several well-known literary and art workers shared stories with Director Chen Kaige
Yu Shaoqun, the actor who portrayed the young Mei Lan (better known by his stage name Mei Lanfang), appeared on the stage wearing a long robe from his cherished collection. This costume holds a special significance as it was gifted to him by Chen during the filming of Forever Enthralled, where he portrayed the iconic character. Standing on the stage, Yu expressed sincere gratitude to Chen for recognizing his talent and providing him with guidance. He emphasized that he has always treasured the invaluable teachings imparted to him by Chen.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by the venerable artist Li Xuejian, who is known for his excellence in both virtue and artistic talent. As Li handed over the award trophy to Chen Kaige with great solemnity, the entire audience was emotionally stirred. This moment perfectly illustrates the unwavering and enduring character of Chinese filmmakers.
  Li Xuejian
The final act, the Chinese version of Auld Lang Syne, was a delightful number filled with hope and blessings. As the filmmakers from around the world joined in the song, they were able to relive the wonderful encounters they had experienced.
  Scene of the singing of the song Auld Lang Syne
The BJIFF this year made substantial strides in enhancing international cooperation and fostering cultural exchange. The Tiantan Award, Competition Section saw a record number of entries, with over 87% of submissions produced by international filmmakers, resulting in strengthened interactions and dialogue among participants. As the collaboration and exchange between Chinese and foreign film industries have reached new heights, the BJIFF International Lounge was launched for the first time. During the BJIFF this year, two successful forums were held, featuring 10 copyright owners from internationally renowned companies and seven presidents or heads of Chinese and international film festivals. A Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) was also signed with the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival during the event. The Beijing Film Market Exhibition saw the active participation of 165 institutional companies from various countries including Brazil, Thailand, Malaysia, and France. A total of 21 films were screened at the Beijing Film Market, with international films comprising more than 38.1% of the selection, while the rate of premieres in the Chinese market reached an impressive 85.7%.
With ongoing dedication to combining specialization and technological innovation, the BJIFF has dedicated itself to catering to the needs of creative endeavors in the film and television industry. Specifically, the festival this year achieved remarkable success by organizing 4 core forums, 3 workshops & masterclasses, and 3 featured forums, offering a total of 10 thought-provoking events. The commitment to fostering emerging talents and promoting new projects has been significantly strengthened, evident in the record-breaking 769 entries received for Project Pitches. This demonstrates a continued focus on improving incentives and nurturing frameworks for filmmakers. Some young filmmakers who have achieved outstanding accomplishments in recent years were invited to the 31st Beijing College Student Film Festival, themed "Light Creates Everything, and Films Open up a New Era", to share their experiences and exchange insights, with the active participation of students and teachers from over 1,000 colleges and universities. In a first-of-its-kind move, the BJIFF launched the AIGC Film Shorts Section to showcase and explore the application and innovation of artificial intelligence technology in filmmaking. "The Cinematic Futurity" Film Science and Technology Section brought together nearly 300 elites from the fields of film, technology, education, and more, to explore the impact of artificial intelligence and high technology on the film industry.
The number of international media participants reached a new high, with a total of 1,784 registered journalists from 105 countries and regions. Among them, 1,584 are Chinese media representatives, while 200 are from overseas. A total of 699 media organizations participated in registration, including 550 Chinese media and 149 overseas media outlets. The event set numerous records with impressive data, and welcomed over 150 filmmakers and industry representatives from home and abroad. The BJIFF achieved significant outreach and impact across various platforms, with its influence experiencing a remarkable surge.
Over a hundred multidimensional activities garnered widespread participation from people from all walks of life. The Beijing Film Panorama provided abundant options for movie viewing, while organizing over 50 meet-and-greets with cast & crew. With a reach of over 180,000 viewers, the event catered to the diverse interests of movie fans and promoted cultural accessibility. The newly launched Movie Plus Energy Aggregation featured a cross-disciplinary concept, drawing over 20 exhibitors from film and game IPs, over 60 cultural and creative art exhibitors and more than 20 food and beverage vendors, for the first time hitting the Beijing Film Market. With the theme "Follow the Footsteps of Films, Enjoy Life in Huairou", the Film Carnival featured more than 30 outstanding Chinese films, including The Wandering Earth II, Full River Red, and Lost in the Stars, with a total of over 1,400 showings. The Beijing International Sports Film Week leveraged the influence of sports-related cinematic works to spread the Olympic spirit, strengthen cultural exchanges between China and the world, and showcase a plethora of remarkable Chinese sports tales to the international stage.
As we eagerly anticipate the next BJIFF, let us come together and sing out our hopes and blessings for China's film and cultural sectors, as well as our shared wish for Chinese and international film artists to build a better future hand in hand. May China's film industry surge forward with unstoppable momentum, and may the BJIFF continue to expand its horizons and dance together with the world of cinema, writing a shining new chapter in the history of cinema.


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