The Silk Road Unit was a highlight in 2014 Shanghai International Film Festival, and in 2015 Shanghai International Film Festival. “The Belt and Road” Unit had become a regular unit of the festival, which has caught attentions of filmmakers from many countries. As Shanghai International Film Festival has been encouraging and assisting the development of filmmaking industries of countries in the “The Belt and Road” policy, many filmmakers from more countries in the areas were also inspired and more actively participated in the application of Shanghai International Film Festival this year.
This year, Shanghai International Film Festival has received 2528 film applications from 106 countries, 47 of which are along the routes of “The Belt and Road”. Countries along the route of “The Belt and Road” altogether have submitted 1016 films to Shanghai International Film Festival this year, more than any other previous festivals. Some of these films have already been selected for the main competition of the Golden Goblet Awards, some have been selected for Asia New Talent Award, and some will be screened in different units and presented to the audience. Over 10 films will be screened in the special unit of “The Belt and Road”. These films, using diverse filmographic styles and rich camera languages, show on the big screen the charming natural sceneries and unique local cultures along the routes of “The Belt and Road”, so that the audience will feel the great power of diversity and get closer to our friends from different countries by learning so much from them.Recently, SIFF was releasing the list of the first-batch films in the “The Belt and Road” Unit.
Hema Hema: Sing Me a Song While I Wait
Director: Khyentse Norbu
Deep in the forests down the Himalaya Mountains, there is a secret ritual taking place once every 12 years. The chosen ones should put on masks, leave their lives totally behind and start an unusual 2-week practice in an isolated place. During the practice, some people could calm themselves down and concentrate on the meditation, but some couldn’t complete separate themselves from the desires humans have. On the boundary of reality and fantasy, one shall be destroyed if he takes off his mask. Chinese actors and actresses, such as Zhou Xun and Tony Leung, also guest-starred in the film, which is another attraction for the Chinese audience.
Singing in Graveyards
Director: Bradley Liew
Pepe is a 68-year-old impersonator of a Filipino rock legend. As an impersonator, Pepe has a hard time finding who he is on the borderline of fantasy and reality. To seek for the answer, Pepe goes on a journey to save himself from the shadow of his idol. Only when he finds himself could he write a song of his own.
Director: Avid Liongoren
Country/region: the Philippines
Marty is an ambitious comic-book artist who has romantic feelings for his best friend Sally. Sally is a beautiful and funny girl, a passionate gadget inventor who has never noticed Marty’s feelings. Like every love story, theirs has obstacles, too. Sally has abusive parents and a bad boyfriend. Although Marty couldn’t do anything about it, he is determined to save the love of his life from the ugly side of the world.
Director: Navid Mahmoudi
Fereshteh and Nabi, two young Afghans, fall in love with each other. Fereshteh has to leave Afganistan for Iran with her parents. Nabi decides to take the risk of crossing the border and eloping with her to Europe through Turkey for a better life. The film tells a story in the refugee crisis that the audience don’t know of through the perspective of two young lovers.
Director: Rajko Grlić
Four characters live under the same roof. They are different from each other in terms of family, living habit and religion. They don’t even speak with each other at beginning, but unfortunate events bring them together. After a long and painful period of time, they start to open up and show each other the unknown parts of their lives.
Train Driver’s Diary
Director: Miloš Radović
In every train driver’s career, he may encounter 20-30 deaths on average. Among these “victims”, some commit suicides, some lose their lives by crossing the rails and some are drunk. In such repeated tragedies, train drivers are made to become the “killers”, which is against their own wills. How would these deaths affect these train drivers’ lives?
Director: Radu Jude
The movie is inspired by Romanian author Max Blecher’s biographic novel, which is set in 1937. It centers on Emanuel, a man in his early 20s, who spends most of his days at a sanatorium on the Black Sea coast, suffering from bone tuberculosis. He falls in love there and tries to bravely live on. Their bodies slowly wither, but their minds refuse to give in.
The Liberation of Skopje
Director: Danilo Serbedzija
Country/region: Republic of Macedonia
In 1941, with the help of allies from Bulgaria, Germany occupied Skopje, capital of Macedonia. From the perspective of the 8-year-old boy, Zoran, the movie depicts the city of Skopje and its poor and devastated destiny after the occupation as well as the brutality of wars.
Director: Abed Abest
One night, three bored young men suddenly decided to visit an old man they barely know. At first, the old man is happy to see them, but slowly he realizes that the three men are there to rob him. The old man takes out his gun, hold them still and calls the police. The three men are then held in custody. But it turns out that the whole thing is nothing but computer-stimulated ”melodrama”.