Chinese film De Lan wins biggest prize at SIFF

Chinese film De Lan won the Golden Goblet award at SIFF this year. [Photo/China Daily]

Chinese director Liu Jie’s film De Lan won the Golden Goblet, the top award at the recently concluded Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF). The movie, which is set in the 1980s, tells the story of a young Han Chinese man who enters the Tibetan community.

The jury, led by its chairman, Serbian film director Emir Kusturica, praised De Lan to be a “simple and exciting film where incredible conflicts emerge from the extremely simple plot and uplift the story to an emotional incident”.

Italian film See You in Texas by Vito Palmieri won the Grand Jury Award while Finnish director Antti Jokinen won the Best Film Director Award for Flower of Evil.

For the acting awards, Chinese actor Liu Ye won Best Male Actor for his performance in Cock and Bull, a black comedy and crime thriller written and directed by Cao Baoping. Japanese actress Naomi Fujiyama won Best Female Actor for her role in The Project, directed by Junji Sakamoto.

Aside from new releases home and abroad, the festival also featured vintage films that were digitally restored. John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow had a special show at the Shanghai Grand Theater during the festival. The crime film, which was made in 1986, stars Chow Yun-Fat, Leslie Cheung and Ti Lung. It was one of the director’s most recognized works and marks an important page in the golden age of Hong Kong films.

The restoration was sponsored by luxury watch maker Jaeger LeCoultre. The Swiss company has over the years been working with a series of renowned film festivals, sponsoring vintage film restoration. The latest project it worked on is Outside the Window, which was made in Taiwan in 1973.

With regard to the criteria for good films, Kusturica said that “a good film is created, not produced”. He compared filmmaking to painting and said that as a film maker, his greatest difficulty was deciding “when to stop shooting”. During the news conference on June 13, Kusturica also said that while filmmaking has gone through many changes through the years, he believes that films still need to have philosophical significance.

He added that box office volumes no longer reflect the quality of a film and that he was dismayed by how film has become just another “product”. Kusturica called on young filmmakers to revisit the morality, aesthetics and the meaning of film itself in order to produce poignant works.

“Films are more than what you see with your eyes. It still involves lots of idealism, though nowadays idealists are often considered foolish,” he said.

Kusturica’s first visit to Shanghai was in 2012 when he and his band No Smoking participated in the West Bund Summer Music Festival. There, he performed Bella Ciao, which has for decades been one of China’s most popular foreign ballads.

The 62-year filmmaker won the Best First Work Award at the Venice Film Festival with his debut feature Do You Remember Dolly Bell in 1981. His second feature film When Father Was Away on Business earned him the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. In 1995, his black comedy

Underground won the Palme d’Or as well.