Indiewire writer Zack Sharf recently reported that Chinese director Jia Zhangke is attempting to start an international film festival in China. Zhangke’s goal with the festival is to highlight local Chinese films, which is often ignored. Rather than screening Western films, which already receive enormous international attention, Zhangke’s film festival, called the Pingyao Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon International Film Festival, will allow local Chinese independent filmmakers to display their talent and hard work while providing a cinematic opportunity to celebrate and/or criticize Chinese issues, whether they be political, social, or economic.
I have seen Jia Zhangke’s 2013 film A Touch of Sin, and it was absolutely spectacular. The cinematography was marvelous, the characters were complex, and the story was heartbreaking. One can only feel more respect for this brilliant filmmaker as he allows other Chinese filmmakers to show their works. Sharf’s article mentioned Zhangke’s guilt over neglecting local cinema while he has been to several other international film festivals showcasing his own films. This new festival is a way to rectify his abandonment.
This is not only a great opportunity for filmmakers, but also for film critics. The article also mentioned that Zhangke wanted to give a voice to Chinese cinephiles. He wants a safe environment where Chinese critics can share their opinions about international and local cinema. This is a brilliant idea that lends to the legitimacy of Chinese cinema because now critics and filmmakers from the country have more opportunities to engage in intellectual conversations about cinema.
The Pingyao Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon International Film Festival will premiere October 19th, and it will last until October 26th. It will take place in the Culture and Art District of Pingyao, Shanxi. Based on Zhangke’s previous successes as a filmmaker, it will be surprising if this film festival is anything short of innovative and majestic.