A chance to see a new world

By Xu Fan(China Daily)
Updated: 2017-02-16 07:09:44

Some of the domestic films being screened at the Beijing event include Apart Together, No Man's Land and Black Coal, Thin Ice. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Film fans have an opportunity to view Chinese movies that have made a mark at the Berlin film festival over the years at an event in Beijing. Xu Fan reports.

Three years after his first tour to Berlin, Liao Fan remembers the chilly night when his noir thriller Black Coal, Thin Ice premiered there. After the screening, he stood alongside the director, Diao Yinan, smoking quietly.

"It was the first time I had seen the film on a big screen. The details were impressive," he says at an event, which is being held in Beijing in conjunction with the ongoing 67th Berlinale International Film Festival.

The event, titled Eyes on Berlin, held by the French Institute, the Goethe-Institut China and the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, is showcasing 18 films that were presented at the German festival over the years.

Other domestic films being screened at the ongoing event include Crosscurrent, the Silver Bear winner last year; No Man's Land, a 2014 nominee; the 2016 documentary nominee My Land; and Apart Together, the best screenplay winner at the 60th edition of the festival.

Clemens Treter, director of the Goethe-Institut China, says the Beijing event symbolizes a conversation between Chinese and European cinema, providing locals with an opportunity to see a different world.

Black Coal was the opening film at the Beijing event, which was launched on Feb 10 at the French Institute. The event runs through Feb 28.

Speaking about his Berlin experience, Liao says that he saved the premiere ticket of his film, thinking that it would be "the only thing" he brought home from the 64th Berlin festival, one of the world's most influential movie events.

Some of the domestic films being screened at the Beijing event include Apart Together, No Man's Land and Black Coal, Thin Ice. [Photo provided to China Daily]

"But the organizers were more generous than I expected, and it (the jury) seemingly wanted to give me more than just a ticket," he says.

On Feb 14, 2014, the day after his 40th birthday, Liao won the Silver Bear for Best Actor, the first such honor for a Chinese.

Black Coal, Thin Ice, a movie about a mysterious series of killings, was another Chinese-language movie to win the Golden Bear for Best Film after Wang Quan'an's Tuya's Marriage, which won the same prize in 2007.

Before Black Coal, Liao had starred in many movies and television series over 15 years. But in the commercial hits-such as Jackie Chan's CZ12 and Jiang Wen's Let The Bullets Fly-Liao played only a supporting role.

Berlin, a lucky city for many Chinese filmmakers since the 1980s, was a turning point for Liao.

He has played lead roles in the few films he has since appeared in.

His 2015 film The Master, which won best action choreography at the 52nd Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards, is currently one of the most highly acclaimed martial-arts films on China's major review sites.

Liao's role of an aspiring Wing Chun master is much appreciated.

Some of the domestic films being screened at the Beijing event include Apart Together, No Man's Land and Black Coal, Thin Ice. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In 2015, Liao also teamed up with Tang Wei for Only You, a Chinese remake of the 1994 American hit of the same name. The movie received mixed views.

Meanwhile, his interest in complex roles has drawn the veteran back to familiar territory. Both of his forthcoming films, Evil Minds and Savages, revolve around crime.

As for the impact the German award has had on his life, he says: "I have not seen much change, except that the aunts(referring to elderly female neighbors) in my community treat me better."

But Yang Chao, the director of Crosscurrent, another winner, feels that the Berlin festival award has helped him.

"Things have become easier for me. I've got a reputation, which is helpful. I have not needed to say too much about myself since then," says Yang. Interestingly, Yang, like Liao, also got the news of the nomination as a birthday present.

"It was Jan 6,my birthday. I had a fever. But I was so excited to see the nomination message that day," says Yang.

"In China, a Berlinale's nomination makes an impact."

Crosscurrent, which won the Silver Bear for cinematography at the 66th edition of the festival, is about a journey along the Yangtze River.

Yang says he was overwhelmed to be nominated, as the festival is known for preferring titles mirroring social conflict and political turbulence.

"Crosscurrent is not quite about these things. So, I suppose to some extent the win hints at a change at the festival," says Yang.

Now, thanks to the spotlight from Berlin, Yang says he has more freedom.

His ongoing production is a sci-fi epic based on Hugo Award-winning novelist Hao Jingfang's The Last Brave Man.

Yang says the Berlin festival is a "Chinese-friendly" event, which promotes Chinese cinema to the world. And his words carry some weight.

During the past decades, the festival has discovered a series of outstanding Chinese film talent, from Zhang Yimou (Red Sorghum in 1988) and Ang Lee(The Wedding Banquet in 1993) to Wang Quan'an, also the director of Apart Together.

If you go

Goethe-Institut China: Originality Square, 798 Art Zone, No 2 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang district.

The French Institute: Guangcai International Mansion, 18 Gongti Xilu, Chaoyang district.

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art: 798 Art Zone.

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