Two Oscar winners get big screen showing in Beijing, hub of 2nd biggest movie market
Flooded by top Hollywood and European filmmakers, the Fifth Beijing International Film Festival kicked off on Thursday night at Yanqi Lake in the northern outskirts of the Chinese capital.
The long pursuit of internationalization and diversity has pushed the young festival to become an influential movie event in the world, Cai Fuchao, director general of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said at the opening ceremony.
Chinese moviegoers will get their first chance to see two of this year's Oscar winners - Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel - for the first time on the big screens during the festival.
The world's second-largest movie market, China's box office totaled 29.6 billion yuan (S$6.5 billion) in 2014, up 36 per cent from the previous year. A total of 618 Chinese movies accounted for 54 per cent of the box-office sales.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, US movie star and the former governor of California, gave a thumbs up to the event, praising its ability to establish a bridge for the world's filmmakers to connect with each other.
French director Luc Besson, renowned in China for his films Leon and Lucy, will serve as president of a seven-member panel that will select the best title out of 15 nominators for the festival's top honour, the Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Award.
Besson looks for emotional films, and the best in his opinion are those that are "understood and remembered by everyone, regardless the country and language", he said in a statement released on Wednesday.
Thirteen of the 15 nominated films, selected from 930 candidates, will make their international debut at the festival that runs through April 23.
About 300 movies selected from over 1,500 productions from 103 countries and regions will be shown in 23 Beijing cinemas and at eight universities.
Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who gave warm handshakes and hugs to screaming fans alongside the ceremony's red carpet, also revealed that his recent silver screen return in the action blockbusters Sabotage and Terminator 5 is motivated by fans around the world.
Revealing his twice-a-day training to keep in good shape, Schwarzenegger also displays his hope for the booming Chinese movie market.
"I'm waiting for China to open up its movie market further to bring in more foreign movies and export great Chinese productions overseas,"he said.