The main event of the 3rd Beijing International Film Festival, the Temple of Heaven Awards competition section, has made important headway. The Organizing Committee of the Beijing International Film Festival formally announced the 15 shortlisted films for the Temple of Heaven Awards.
A total of 531 films from 56 countries and regions throughout the world signed up to compete in the “Temple of Heaven Awards”. The films were abundant in subject matter, various in their genres and different in style. Overall quality of the films was relatively high and fully displayed the influence of the Beijing International Film Festival.
Temple of Heaven Awards selection committee went through three rounds of selection; initial, repeat and final selection rounds. They selected 15 films to be shortlisted from those that were signed up. The 15 films selected are from 11 different countries, among them are mature works from acclaimed directors, as well as excellent works from new directors. The 15 films are:
BACK TO 1942, Country: China, Director: Feng Xiaogang
Back to 1942 is directed by Feng Xiaogang and stars Zhang Guoli, Xu Fan and Chen Daoming among others. It reflects a catastrophe that took place in 1942. The Sino-Japanese War has got to a point of stalemate, a great drought has hit Henan province and many people have left their hometowns to flee from the famine. The main character Lao Dongjia is a typical feudal landlord, but owning to the fact that he has no way of combatting this disaster, the likes of which have never been seen before, he is also forced to flee the famine, personally witnessing the sad departure of his family, his wife, son and daughter in law, His experiences are a perfect example of what 3 million people went through. The film tells the story of the disaster from four different points of view, the government, international journalists, religious people and normal citizens.
FENG SHUI, Country: China, Director: Wang Jing
Feng Shui was directed by Wang Jing and stars Yan Bingyan, Chen Gang, Jiao Gang. In the 1990s in the city of Wuhan, Li Baoli, a vendor on Hanzheng Street approaching her 40s, moves into a new home. Who would have thought that misfortune would follow hot on her heels, almost as if it could be foreseen. Her husband dies because he cannot bear the situation, and his son is full of resentment towards her because of this. But the obstinate Li Baojie decides to overcome the resentment and the pain, and resolves to go to the market and help others carry their goods on a shoulder pole as a way to make a living and send her son to school. This film comments on the vissicitudes of Yan Bingyan’s “goods carrying” character Li Baojie and packs in the warmth of life, as well as its pain and helplessness.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS, Country: United Kingdom, Director: Mike Newell
Acclaimed British director Mike Newell, who has directed films like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Donnie Brasco, has brought his new film to the Beijing International Film Festival, Great Expectations, based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel adapted for the screen. The film has brought together an array of stars including Jeremy Irvine, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter and Holliday Grainger. This is the story about the vanishing and recurrance of the dreams or “great expectations” of main character Pip, of becoming a member of the upper class.
SONG FOR MARION, Country: United Kingdom, Director: Paul Andrew Williams
The other British film to be shortlisted was director Paul Andrew Williams’ Song For Marion, starring Terence Stamp, Gemma Artertonand Vanessa Redgrave. Terence Stamp assumes the role of a cantankerous elderly man, who does not understand his wife’s hobby of singing in a choir, however, after her passing, he once again begins to smile and begin a new life after taking her place in the choir.
GONE FISHING, Country: Argentina, Director: Carlos Sorin
Once a winner of the San Sebastián International Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize, acclaimed Argentinian director Carlos Sorin has brought his new film Gone Fishing to take part in the competition. The story tells of a father who has just beaten alcoholism and his decision to redeem the lost feelings brought on by leaving his daughter many years prior. He goes fishing off the coast of the town his daughter lives in and takes the opportunity to try and patch things up with her.
HOME FOR THE WEEKEND, Country: Germany, Director: Hans-Christian Schmid
Germany has two nominated films. Home for the Weekend is the work of famous director Hans-Christian Schmid, starring Lars Eidinger and well-known German actress Corinna Harfouch in the lead roles. It tells the story of a normal German household, where the mother, who has certain mental issues, decides that she doesn’t wish to receive treatment anymore and resolves to leaving the home, causing subtle psychological changes in the other family members and intensification of the conflicts between them, causing what originally seemed to be a stable family fall apart at the seams. It reflects the lifestyles of upper-class families in Europe.
MY GERMAN FRIEND, Country: Germany, Director: Jeanine Meerapfel
The other German film, My German Friend, directed by Jeanine Meerapfel, tells the story of the son of an SS officer and a Jewish girl in the aftermath of World War 2 and the emotional experiences in the historical changes that they go through. Sulamit is a Jewish German girl, Friedreich is a high-level SS officer’s son, the two develop a deep emotional attachment to each other, however, the two end up having to separate owing to Friedrich’s non-voluntary involvement in the ruthless world of politics. The two have their next encounter when Sulamit is 43 years old.
IF ONLY EVERYONE, Country: Armenia, Director: Nataliya Belyayskene
Armenian director Nataliya Belyayskene’s film If Only Everyone is the next shortlisted film, with Mikayel Poghosyan, Ekaterina Shitova and Vahagn Simonyan in the leading roles. Saha, a young girl, comes to Azerbaijan to look for the help of one of her father’s old war comrades, Gugo, to search for her father’s grave. However, Gugo is unwilling to help Sasha owing to his disinclination to face the past. Gugo then grits his teeth to face the past and help Sasha, earning his own redemption in the process.
INCH’ALLAH, Country: Canada, Director: Anais Barbeau-Lavalette
Inch’Allah is Canadian director Anais Barbeau-Lavalette’s shortlisted film, set against the background of the Isreali-Palistinian conflict, revealing the enormous hurt suffered by innocent people in the war. The story is of a Canadian doctor named Chloé who often crosses the Israeli-Palistinian border to carry out her work. She gets to know some female soldiers on the Palestinian side of the border, and becomes good friends with an Isreali family. One day, a heavily pregant woman in a friend’s household finds she is going into labour, but because of a border conflict, she fails to get to the hospital on time, causing her baby to die. In the end, the inconsoleable young woman decides to take the extreme measure of ending her own life.
LORE, Country: Australia, Director: Cate Shortland
Australian film Lore is directed by Cate Shortland. Young girl Lore is the daughter of a Nazi officer and has done herself proud from a yound age, she knows next to nothing about the encounters of the Jewish people until the end of the Second World War when Germany is left in ruins and her parents have gone to prison successively. Lore migrates with her younger brother and sister. In the process of migration, Lore witnesses the famine caused by war along with the destitution and homelessness, giving her an extreme shock. The film examines the enormous harm caused by the Second World War on everyone including boys and girls with Nazi parents, thorugh the angle of the post-war experiences of these children of Nazi parentage.
MADDENED BY HIS ABSENCE, Country: France, Director: Sandrine Bonnaire
France’s shortlisted film, Maddened By His Absence, is directed by once winner of the Best Actress award at Venice Film Festival and acclaimed actress Sandrine Bonnaire. The film chose to focus on the inner thoughts of succeptible characters as its subject matter: American Jacaues, goes back to France to bury his Father, in that time he finds that his ex-wife has already gotten married and has a seven-year-old son named Paul. Jacaues is forced to relive the painful recollection: Jacaues’ own son has already died. Jacaues channels all of his love onto Paul, eventually, he has to face the brutal truth, and painfully make his departure.
WHAT THE DAY OWES THE NIGHT, Country: France, Director: Alexandre Arcady
The other French film to get onto the shortlist is What the Day Owes The Night, directed by multiple time nominee for the Cesar awards Alexandre Arcady. Fu’ad Ait Aattou, Nora Arnezeder and Anne Parillaud star in the lead roles. The film, set against a grandiose historical background, tells the story of a period of time where the two ceaselessly miss opportunities to love one another. The young Younès falls in love with Emilie, yet she cannot accept because of a secret she has, the two continuously let each other slip away, and their destinies completely change.
MANSLAUGHTER, Country: Holland, Director: Pieter Kuijpers
Holland’s nomination, Manslaughter, directed by Pieter Kuijpers, and starring Theo Maassen and Maryam Hassouni tackles the problem of the fusion process between immigrant citizens and local citizens. Max and Moroccan immigrant Amira are collegues working in a hospital. One time, in the midst of saving a patient, Max runs into some conflict with a Moroccan immigrant, he accidentally kills the young person and is sent to prison. After he comes out, Max is extremely depressed, nobody understands him, and in the end he resorts to using violence to deal with the situation, leading to tragedy.
MODEST RECEPTION, Country: Iran, Director: Mani Haghighi
Noted Iranian director Mani Haghighi’s nominated film Modest Reception is a modern fable. A young married couple hand out a million in cash on a journey, at the same time testing the morals of the people that wish to accept the money, it leads to quarrelling between brothers and a father abandoning his daughter. It gives a full view of the bad side of humanity in the face of desire. The film is directed, edited and starred in by Mani Haghighi and co-stars actress Taraneh Alidoosti, who once worked with Haghighi and won the Locarno International Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize for best actress.
THE FANTASTIC WORLD OF JUAN OROL, Country: Mexico, Director: Sebastian Del Amo
Mexico’s nominated film, The Fantastic World Of Juan Orol, directed by Sebastian del Amo and starring Roberto Sosa and Gabriela de la Garza, displays the history of Mexican film through the recollections of the life of lead actor Orol. Orol accidentally got into the movie business, and has been directing for more than 50 years, his career had gone through its peak, and reached its nadir in the later years, finally, a big fire destroys everything in the film archives, and the movie industry to which he had dedicated his life, is left in ashes.
The Temple of Heaven Awards International Competition Jury is composed of acclaimed international and domestic directors, actors and other celebrated names in the movie business. Russian master film director Nikita Mikhalkov will serve as chairman of this year’s Temple of Heaven Awards international prize jury, the strong international panel of judges will fully display the Beijing International Film Festival‘s authority and influence. The ten prizes of the Temple of Heaven Awards will be produced in the midst of the 3rd annual Beijing International Film Awards, the decision on who will get the awards will be announced at the awards ceremony on the 23rd of April.