The 16th Shanghai International Film Festival Opens
    2013-06-18 16:32:19     CRIENGLISH.com       Web Editor: Liu Kun

The 16th Shanghai International Film Festival is held from June 15th to 23rd in China's eastern city Shanghai. [Photo:Baidu.com]





 



Hello and welcome to "In the Spotlight," a show featuring arts, culture and showbiz from right here in China. I'm your host Jules Page.
First up on today's show, we'll explore the 16th annual Shanghai International Film Festival as we take a look at which films are most likely to attract large audiences in China.
We'll also revisit the urban-set drama "Scoundrel vs. Angel", which we previously featured on 'In The Spotlight'. On today's program, we'll meet Wu Yaheng, a young man selected from more than three thousand candidates to star in the production.
In addition, we'll introduce to you an enchanting Children's book entitled "There is a Mess in the Henhouse" by French author Christian Jolibois. This book tells the adventures of an adorable little chicken and has now been translated into Chinese.
Last but not least, our movie reviewer Laiming will introduce us to "Kuiba 2", China's latest homegrown animation success. The movie's box office revenue topped 18 million Yuan in it's debut week. That tells us something about Chinese cinema goers enthusiasm for this film.
So, plenty of entertaining and informative stories up ahead on this edition of "In the Spotlight". Stay Tuned.

Film stars, world-renowned directors and film makers are gathering in Shanghai to attend the annual Shanghai International Film Festival. It's not only a feast for insiders, but also a carnival for cinema fans.
Those in attendance at this year's 'Shanghai International Film Festival' are suggesting that a strong storyline and a better connection with local audiences should be the main focus for Chinese filmmakers, as they seek success with their films.
Si Qi has more from Shanghai.

Ticket sales for the 16th Shanghai International Film Festival has got off to a flying start this year. The organizing committee said more than 4 million yuan or $645,000 worth of tickets were sold by late afternoon on the first day, which is up 20 percent on the same period last year. This is another strong proof of China's film industry's explosive growth. Popular choices are said to include comedies, romantic movies, films with realistic themes and classics.
With box office revenues in China rising to $2.7 billion, the country has now edged out Japan to become the second-largest film market in the world after the United States. Therefore, figuring out the smartest ways to reach Chinese moviegoers has become one of the film industry's top priorities.
Ren Zhonglun, Chairman of Shanghai Film Group Corporation, says genre film is the most likely to be successful in the expanding market in China.
"What kinds of films will be the biggest winner in China's film market? I think the answer is very easy, only two words - genre film. In today's China film market, you can never say which type of movie can dominate over five years or a decade. In different period, there are different film genres being popular among the audience. They take turns."
It's easy to see that over the past two years films with realistic themes, cute romantic movies and comedies are frequently box office successes in China. A low-budget comedy "Lost in Thailand", which costs only 30-million-yuan has set the highest-ever box office record among domestic feature films, raking in about 1.2 billion yuan. A romantic movie "Finding Mr. Right" has earned over 500 million yuan. Both movies give the film market a big surprise.
Zhou Liming is a senior film critic.
"Audience's preferences are always evolving. I think about 10 years ago we saw a big boom in fantasy films, costume dramas like Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Those movies are basically not about reality, they are about dreams. So the images you see on the big screen are what you'll never see in the real world. But I think the recent boom in the past year is more or less reality-based movies. Those are all about real people whom we can identify with. And they speak a kind of language that can reall click with a lot of people.
However, as such films have won a huge success, more and more filmmakers are trying to copy the successful cases and follow the trend blindly. Films of both high and low qualities are rushing into the market.
Wang Changtian is President of Enlight Media Group.
"Genre film has so many types, such as romantic film, war film, science fiction film, disaster film, etc. But there are many types we didn't explore. Now too many filmmakers focus on making youth films and comedies. Over 100 film projects have come to me. But most of them are of low quality. Don't follow suit."
Filmmakers have their own judgment on what kinds of films will be popular among the audience while Chinese moviegoers have their say about what types of movies they want to see.
"I think good movies have nothing to do with film genres. Good stories or contents are the most important things. Different directors and screenwriters are good at different genres. What they should do is to focus on the content. If they only think about what types of films the market wants, at last they will ruin the market. There are no unpopular film genres, only bad contents."
"Talking about Chinese films, I like to see romantic films and films which are related to our real life, which we can resonate with."
For moviegoers, they don't always stick to one specific genre. The taste of the audience always changes. What they want is good movies, good stories and something they can resonate. This is not only what Chinese audience wants to see, but also what the international audience wants.
Helen Lee-Kim is the International President of Good Universe.
"I think the key is, whether it's Chinese local or international or American movie, you have to connect. Whatever that connective issue is, there has to be a connection with the audience. I think that's what's gonna make a film travel."
For CRI, I'm Siqi reporting from Shanghai.

You may recall, we recently introduced you to "Scoundrel vs. Angel", an urban-set drama which has received critical acclaim. As another round of performances were recently staged in Beijing, we had the chance to speak to one of the production's lead actors, 29-year-old Wu Yaheng, who portrays the scoundrel. Although he was relatively unknown, Wu was selected from more than three thousand candidates to take on one of the the plays main roles.
Xiangwei tells us more about this impressive young actor.

Wu Yaheng is known to many fans as "Brother Scoundrel" after touring with the show 'Scoundrel vs. Angel" to over 20 cities nationwide. He's tall, handsome, with a strong sense of humor and swift reflexes. He played the scoundrel so vividly that many audience members were left wondering about his true character.
"The real me is certainly not a scoundrel. In my friends' eyes I am a compliant, silent person. But I can adjust myself, too. For example if I'm at a party and I feel that the atmosphere needs to be warmed up, I'll definitely be the one to do so. Only when everyone else is enjoying themselves am I happy to set aside some time for myself."
Wu Yaheng is good at singing and plays many instruments such as the guitar and piano. He has won many singing competitions and performs in several variety shows. Last year, when the prominent commercial drama group "Baimei Studio" selected performers for their year-end show he knew it was the right time for him to launch a real career.
"On the one hand, I told myself not to feel too bad if I couldn't get the chance. But inside, there was also another voice that kept saying 'I have to win' because I knew it would be a great opportunity. With these mixed feelings I finished the contest and it turned out pretty well. Most of my performance was adlibbed."
Wu Yaheng participated in the contest with one of his friends, and both were able to win spots in the production. Wu was overjoyed at the good news although he knew little of the changes this job would really bring to his lives.
Wu Yaheng recalls the rehearsal days.
"I had no idea how I survived the 40 plus days of rehearsal. People told me I was like a wandering soul. When it was time for my part, I walked to the stage to rehearse. When my turn was over, I went back to the darkness and sank into one of the seats to think. Actually, my nerves were highly strained and I was very close to breaking point. "
Stage performing seemed very challenging to Wu Yaheng. At that time, he was a green hand in stage performing, whereas his partners were all well experienced; he soon started to lag behind.
"My every pronunciation, tone, and facial expression needed to be corrected, because I didn't have any experience in performing a lead role in such a large year-end show. I knew the director had high expectations for me and I expected a lot from myself too. But the pressure really made me hide and cry from time to time."
Wu Yaheng's place was one and a half hour ride from the rehearsal hall. He had plenty of time to think about his character on his journey to and from work every day.
"I used every minute to think about the character, including the three hours a day on the road. I recited the lines from beginning to end, and from end to beginning. The first thing I did after I waked up every day was to look in the mirror and went through all of my lines."
And after the 40 days of practice, many of Wu Yaheng's colleagues said this beginner had transformed into a totally different person.
"First and foremost, I lost more than 20 pounds without even trying to. Another obvious change was that I gained the courage to look into people's eyes when we talked to each other, which I wasn't confident enough to do before. But now I can look at them naturally and talk freely. I become confident about myself."
Now Wu Yaheng is a lively, energetic and catchy person. He says that this is partly due to the influence of the scoundrel that he played.
"This character affected me for sure, because he's a defiant and insolent young man, going around with his nose in the air, looking down on everyone else. When he looks at someone, his energy would extend to them to make them feel nervous, whereas I used to be someone who always looked at the floor in the middle of a conversation. I was often told I was too soft to be a scoundrel. "
Wu Yaheng says, performing is like walking along a tight rope. But performing before a camera is like walking on a rope when it's down at the floor, whereas performing on stage is like walking on a rope when it's high up in the air. In the first round of performances he managed not to fall. But now he's trying to dance on the tip of his toes.
"To be honest, I didn't feel the connection between myself and the character during the first round of performances. All I kept telling myself in my mind was 'do not make any mistakes.' But this year I've stopped thinking about the mistakes, and began to add some of my personal understandings onstage. I think more about how to give the audience some eye-opening experiences in the theater."
29-year-old Wu Yaheng has become one of the five main performers of "Baimei Studio," alongside the household names such as Deng Chao and Dai Lele. And he even dreams bigger.
"My biggest dream is to use my efforts to bring theater art to a larger audience, even to New York's Broadway and London's West End."
For CRI, this is Xiangwei.

"There is a Mess in the Henhouse" is a storybook series for children by French author Christian Jolibois. The series was translated into Chinese in 2006 receiving widespread acclaim and by 2011, it had sold more than six million copies.
Xiangwei has more.

Carmella is a chicken living happily in a henhouse. While it is widely assumed that the only job of a chicken is to lay eggs, Carmella doesn't buy into this. She believes that there must be many more interesting things to do; her biggest dream is to watch the sea. Although her father is furious over this so-called crazy idea, Carmella nonetheless begins her adventure without so much as a goodbye. Thus opens the first episode of the hugely popular storybook "There is a Mess in the Henhouse."
This particular episode, titled "I Want to Watch the Sea", earns high marks from Professor Zhu Yongxin, vice chairman of the Chinese Society of Education.
"This episode features a significant point of view. It tells young readers that it is okay to be different from other people."
Carmella continues to gain novel experiences when she returns home from the sea. She captures the sun and reaches the stars. She awaits the arrival of a baby brother, and she makes friends with a black cat. The adventurous, caring, and cooperative small chicken has become a popular, well-loved figure among many Chinese readers, thanks to the author's vivid depictions.
Zhu Yongxin explains.
"The author took these books very seriously. He and the illustrator spent a whole year on each episode. They watched the chickens closely, observing their habits, so that they portrayed their images and characters vividly."
Besides the exciting storylines and vibrant pictures, many historical facts are naturally woven into the stories. Carmella is set to witness some of history's greatest explorations, such as that of Magellan, as well as some great discoveries, such as that of Galileo.
What's more, children get an early idea about danger, prejudice and even death from the series. Huang Wen is a senior editor with Xinhua News Agency. When asked a question about whether these topics are too heavy for children to deal with, she responded:
"I don't think so. At least my child didn't react in a way to suggest so. Instead, he showcased a strong desire to fight the evil beast and to stand up for the story's hero in the event of danger because that is his favorite character."
Zhu Yongxin values these topics very much.
"It's a must to experience these difficulties, challenges or darkness before any dream can be fulfilled, otherwise the story will be too idealistic to be real. It's important to stress this fact to our children."
Parents learn their lessons, too, from reading this series. Huang Wen explains.
"From reading this series, my child receives vicarious pleasure, and I learn my lessons too, namely, to think in the shoes of my child. Some of his ideas used to seem silly to me. But now I tell myself not to judge too early. Why not give him a chance to try them out? "
The series "There is a Mess in the Henhouse" has been translated into Chinese under the title "A Different Carmella" and features 11 episodes. Children are told the author is 352 years old and has an Irish fairy mother.
For CRI, this is Xiangwei.

China's homegrown animation "Kuiba 2" is showing real promise in Chinese cinemas, earning more than 18 million yuan in it's debut week. There is already speculation that the film could eventually make ten times more than its 2011 prequel, but the producer of the film seems to have an ever bigger picture in mind.
Let's find out more with our movie reviewer Laiming.

As more middle school students try to let off some steam after a national college entrance exam, the Chinese animated fantasy movie "Kuiba 2" is going to get a boost in grossing. The topical adventure film may very well secure more than 20 million yuan by the end of this week, significantly more than the paltry income of its 2011 prequel. But even so, the box office revenue of the more successful "Kuiba 2" does not live up to its producer's goal.
Five years ago, Beijing-based Vassoon Animation envisioned a story that would appeal to the global audience; to achieve this they based their story in a virtual world with no reference to any type of culture in our real world. Instead, it is a world plagued by a monster every 333 years. The lead character Manji, or Monkey, is the sixth incarnation of the monster Kuiba, or Great Bug. Only he doesn't his reveal true identity, and as a venturous soul, embarks on a journey to conquer the Great Bug.
The first installment explained some of the story's sophisticated background, but was weak on characterization and developed very slowly. Now, with the second installment, moviegoers are allowed a clearer picture of the Kuiba world. Besides the major character Monkey, two supporting roles have distinguished themselves, and are perhaps even a bit too distinguished in that they seem to have pushed Monkey out of the picture.
The movie received a lukewarm response in the domestic market because it was intended for a global audience, following the example of the Harry Porter series. The title Kuiba, which sounds like a lazy translation of the English words Great Bug, makes no sense in Chinese language and therefore doesn't exactly draw in ordinary moviegoers. The elusive title, coupled with an insufficient promotion campaign, contributed to the debacle of the first installment.
It should be noted, however, that critics are being picky about the Kuiba series because they are strong enough to be critiqued in detail. Unlike general Chinese animated films, the Kuiba franchise tells a story that is sophisticated enough for grown-ups, and the drawings are remarkably better. Some viewers recognize the drawings as Japanese in style, but according to the director and Vassoon CEO Wang Chuan, it is realistic. Whatever the case, the pictures are pleasing to the eyes. Kuiba 2 even comes in 3D, although it is yet to compete with Disney and Dreamworks.
Despite its performance in Chinese cinemas, Kuiba is already going places outside China. The three million-euro copyright return in overseas market for Kuiba 1 attests to its market potential, which could only expand as the production quality continues to improve.
On a scale from one to ten, I give Kuiba 2 a seven.

And with that, we've come to the end of this edition of "In the Spotlight".
If you have any comments or suggestions, you can email us at Spotlight@cri.com.cn. We really would love to hear from you! You can also log on to our website at www.cribeyondbeijing.com to learn more about today's topics or catch up on any of our previous editions.
I'm Jules Page. Thanks for listening.
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