By Shelly Kraicer
I previously wrote here about the cancellation of the 2011 Beijing Independent Documentary Film Festival (DOChina) at Songzhuang. As a companion piece, let’s take a look at the other important film event scheduled for roughly the same time in Beijing, the First Beijing International Film Festival (Di yi jie Beijing guoji dianying ji), which took place from April 23 to 28, 2011.
The BJIFF Opening Gala was more than spectacular, as far as these things go. An obviously huge budget was expended on large scale staged showpieces, set up for what was reported to be a “live television broadcast” managed by CCTV3, in Beijing’s most spectacular theatre, the Opera Hall of National Center for the Performing Arts just beside the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square.
CCTV news clip Here.
It makes sense that the fledgling BJIFF would shower a large part of its apparently substantial resources on this splashy opening show. The festival seems to be about scale, civic and national power, and about positioning Beijing — institutionally, internationally, industrially, and in the media’s frame of reference — as the centre of China’s visible film culture. That Shanghai has been host to China’s most prominent long-running film fest, in fact the only one with a real international profile, was an impediment to this image Beijing is eager to project. Hence the BJIFF, tasked to reposition in “film festival” terms Beijing as the acknowledged and unrivaled centre of Chinese cinema.