BEIJING - The eighth annual Beijing International Film Festival lifted its curtain on Sunday at Yanqi Lake International Convention and Exhibition Center, gathering a star-studded lineup on the red carpet.
The Tiantan Awards are the most prestigious awards at the festival, drawing entries from 659 films from 71 countries and regions. Fifteen films have been selected as finalists and await the decision of the all-star jury.
Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai, a globally acclaimed flag-bearer of New Wave, is the head of the seven-person jury.
"No matter what genre the candidates belong to, be it a commercial or art-house production, they have to do well in storytelling," Wong said of the selection criteria. "We will evaluate those with original thoughts and creativity."
Wong won a Tiantan Award for best director in 2014 for his martial arts film The Grandmaster.
This year's shortlist of potential winners includes two Chinese productions: Hold Your Hands, an arthouse film on villagers' endeavours to get rid of poverty in Hunan province, and Operation Red Sea, an action film that was a huge success in the box office this year. It was inspired by the evacuation of Chinese citizens from Yemen in 2015.
The other finalists include the Czech war comedy Barefoot, Canadian drama Eye On Juliet and South African biographic film Krotoa.
Wong, noting that 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up policy, said he was eager to find more abundant types of films at the festival this time.
"Chinese cinema should adopt a more open attitude to encourage different styles," Wong said. "We need green grass, and we also need red flowers, and we can have flourishing blossoms."
Actor Duan Yihong, also a jury member, called for more support for young talent at the Beijing festival.
"When I choose scripts," Duan said, "I usually don't work with the directors who are very famous. I put more value in whether the directors really care about people's destinies."
The other jurors are Shu Qi, an actress from Taiwan, Ruben Ostlund, a Swedish director acclaimed for his Palme d'Or-winning The Square at the Cannes Film Festival last year, Jan Kaczmarek, a Polish film score composer who won an Academy Award for Finding Neverland, Calin Peter Netzer, the Romanian director of the 2013 Golden Bear winner Child's Pose in Berlin, and Jonathan Mostow, the Hollywood action director best known for Terminator 3.
Mostow said the Beijing festival is a venue for different cultures from all over the world to communicate, and it will long inspire filmmakers, including him. Ostlund revealed he will be looking in China for the right actors for his next film.
More than 300 events - including forums, premieres, and trade fairs - will be held in the coming week for the festival, which ends on April 22.