One of the most prominent Chinese filmmakers working today is about to take on a huge new project: Starting a film festival. Jia Zhangke confirmed during a press conference at the China Film Directors Center in Beijing the launch of the Pingyao Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon International Film Festival, which is being described by China Film Insider as the nation’s first “boutique film festival.”
The inaugural edition will take place October 19-26 in the Culture and Art District of Pingyao, Shanxi, which is located about four hours from Beijing. Jia grew up in Shanxi and rose to prominence making “underground” independent films in the province. His mission with this new film festival is to spotlight non-Western cinema and bring awareness to more local Chinese filmmakers. Jia also wants to give Chinese critics the chance to give their own impressions of global cinema.
“I have been living a double life since the very first film I made when I was 27,” the director said. “On the one hand, I have been telling stories with films that have deep roots in Shanxi and China. Yet, on the other hand, I shuttled through all kinds of international film festivals around the world with my films. I constantly wondered during the journey when we’d be able to have a film festival in our own country, in our own hometown, to let people look at our culture and our work and to contribute our reviews and opinions of the world’s films.”
Marco Mueller, former artistic chief at the Rome Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, and Locarno Film Festival will serve as art director. Ang Lee has given his blessing for the festival to use the name of his blockbuster movie. The event’s Special Focus on Genre Film section will be dubbed “Crouching Tiger,” while the New Directors Competition will be dubbed “Hidden Dragon.”
Jia is currently in pre-production on his new film “Journey to the West,” based on the 16th century novel by Wu Cheng’en. For more on the upcoming film festival, head over to China Film Insider.