Global guests share ideas about Sora and AI onslaught at 14th BJIFF

Artists on stage at the opening ceremony of the 14th Beijing International Film Festival in Beijing's Huairou district on April 18 Photo: Li Hao/GT

Artists on stage at the opening ceremony of the 14th Beijing International Film Festival in Beijing’s Huairou district on April 18 Photo: Li Hao/GT

The 14th Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) is underway. Buzzing with excitement and filled with diverse discussions, the festival has attracted a large cross-section of international filmmakers. Chinese moviegoers are flocking to the festival, eager to catch the screenings of their favorite films. 

Qianqian (pseudonym), a movie enthusiast, told the Global Times that she has grabbed about 10 film tickets for various screenings. However, she lamented missing out on the 4K-restored version of
Peony Pavilion and US independent crime film
Pulp Fiction.

The top three fastest-selling films at the BJIFF, according to the committee, were Chinese films
May, the 4K-restored version of
Peony Pavilion, and
Like Winds, Like Weeds.

Tickets for foreign language films such as Japanese animated film
Perfect Blue,
Pulp Fiction, and dark comedy film
Dr. Strangelove were also snatched within seconds.

With over 200 activities planned, the BJIFF offers a colorful array of cultural activities, providing film enthusiasts with an enriching and entertaining experience.

Going global and IP innovative 

BJIFF this year initially launched events such as the BJIFF International Lounge and Film Season for Diplomats, providing a platform for Chinese and foreign guests to discuss the paths for Chinese films to further go global. Participants emphasized the need for strategic support and meticulous planning to unlock the full potential of Chinese films on the international stage.

William Feng, Vice President of Asia Pacific, Motion Picture Association in the US, highlighted the interest of North American audiences in Chinese culture, citing the success of films like
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,
Hero, and
House of Flying Daggers. However, he noted a slight decline in interest, possibly due to viewer fatigue in certain kung fu genre. 

He also suggested that Chinese films collaborate with streaming platforms for distribution. “Chinese film distribution should not be limited to theatrical distribution, as the user base of online platforms such as Netflix and Disney+ is very large. These online platform channels are excellent opportunities.”

Quentin Bohanna, International Sales Executive at Mk2 Films, emphasized the importance of international promotion for Chinese art films, particularly targeting markets like the US. He suggested strategies such as limited screenings followed by expansion based on audience response.

China has produced a lot of blockbusters in recent years, and related cultural products, as was the case with
The Wandering Earth II which also achieved remarkable success.

At a forum on international movie IP authority and franchise development, experts stated that in the category of derivative products, the key category segmentation model is adopted to accurately match the audience portraits of different popular IPs with market demand, accurately creating derivative products that meet audience needs, which can achieve both high-level collection and practical utilitarianism.

Ni Yuehong, former vice president of the Beijing Film Academy, told the Global Times that we also need to strengthen industrial cooperation, integrate advantageous resources, jointly promote the deep integration of the film derivative industry with the cultural and tourism industries, and create more influential cultural IPs.

Technological elements

The impact of AI on the global film and television industry has always been a hot topic. 

Oscar-winning Australian sound editor David White told the Global Times that he holds an open and inclusive attitude and believes that current technology cannot threaten high-level Hollywood film production. 

However, copyright issues involved in training models have always been controversial, and he hopes that regulations will be proposed by government bodies rather than private institutions in the future.

Hong Kong director Derek Tsang told the Global Times that AI would be a great help for filmmakers with low budgets and limited resources. However, he has also observed some new screenwriters using AI to write, which he considers to be a negative phenomenon as he firmly believes that human emotions and stories should come from humans, and emotions are something that AI cannot replace. 

He stated that he would use AI as a tool for basic work but would invest his true emotions and feelings in the creation of scripts.

To incorporate technological elements into this year’s BJIFF, the 14th BJIFF also opened a panorama in the screen and technology section at the China Science and Technology Museum.  

According to the committee, a total of 33 special effects films from 14 countries, including China, Russia, the US, and the UK were screened, along with 14 public welfare screenings of popular science documentaries, films highlighting the spirit of scientists, and short science fiction films, including popular Chinese science film
Seek Out Natural Mysteries. Director Wang Jie, who directed the film, told the Global Times that he hopes such events would inspire more people to engage with science and technology through cinema.

Cross-Straits exchange

During the 14th BJIFF ReelFocus Fresh Blood Short Film Program, Peggy Chiao, Jury President of the program and a film producer and professor from the island of Taiwan, expressed that she saw many young filmmakers with potential in this event.

She emphasized the shared cultural heritage between the Chinese mainland and the island of Taiwan, and called for increased collaboration to promote mutual understanding and unity.

Chiao told the Global Times that coming to the mainland is like coming home because her parents moved from the Chinese mainland to the island of Taiwan. She added that this emotional connection is very special to her. As a filmmaker, she uses films to know the story of her father’s generation. 

Chiao expressed that the cultural roots of both sides of the Straits are the same, and cultural exchanges truly help deepen mutual recognition among people and foster a sense of true kinship. 

Guests on stage at the opening ceremony of the 14th Beijing International Film Festival in Beijing's Huairou district on April 18 Photo: Li Hao/GT

Guests on stage at the opening ceremony of the 14th Beijing International Film Festival in Beijing’s Huairou district on April 18 Photo: Li Hao/GT



Strengthening bonds through film

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between China and Brazil in 2024, the 14th Beijing International Film Festival (BIFF) has taken a significant step toward enhancing cultural exchanges and cooperation between the two countries. 

By inviting Brazil as the Guest of Honor and hosting a series of collaborative events with the Brazilian Embassy in China, the film festival aims not only to deepen the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Brazil but also to elevate its international influence.

During the ongoing festival, the ­Brazil Film Week showcased four outstanding Brazilian films, namely
Mars One,
Pictures of Ghosts,
The Second Mother, and
History of Love and Fury, to Chinese audiences, offering them a glimpse into Brazil’s rich cinematic landscape. 

Meanwhile, renowned Brazilian animator Carlos Saldanha served as an international judge for the prestigious Tiantan Awards.

Cassius Rosa, Brazil’s vice minister of culture, told the Global Times in a one-on-one interview that the four Brazilian films show a rich diversity of genres and that he hopes that Chinese moviegoers can enjoy them while gaining insight into Brazil.

He emphasized the role of cinema as a powerful medium for strengthening mutual understanding and cultural exchanges between nations, and said that Brazil also actively promotes Chinese films in various cities. 

He noted that Chinese kung fu action films, along with ­historical and comedic genres, are highly popular among Brazilian audiences. 

This reciprocal exchange of cinematic experiences reflects the mutual interest and ­appreciation between the two countries.

In addition to showcasing Brazilian films in China, the cultural exchange event extends to Brazil, with the Chinese Film Festival opening in Rio de Janeiro on March 22 and the annual Sao Paulo Chinese Film Festival featuring a diverse selection of Chinese films. 

Such initiatives demonstrate the growing collaboration in the film ­industry, supported by bilateral ­agreements and partnerships between China and Brazil.

In recent years, under the vigorous promotion of both governments, film and television cooperation between China and Brazil has deepened. 

In September 2017, the two countries signed their first film co-production agreement. During Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s visit to China in April 2023, the two countries signed an agreement on television cooperation production. 

Films co-produced by Brazilian and Chinese companies will enjoy national treatment in the two countries, benefit from existing public funding mechanisms, and be regarded as national products in their respective markets.

On Friday, at a forum for exchanges between Chinese and foreign filmmakers, representatives from the BIFF and the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival signed a memorandum of cooperation. 

They agreed to establish mechanisms to encourage mutual visits, conduct discussions and field research, and establish mechanisms for ­recommending films to each other, enhancing cooperation and exchange in the film industry between the two countries.

On Sunday, Rosa, accompanied by officials from the Brazilian film ­community delegation, visited the State Production Base of the China Film Group in Beijing’s Huairou district. 

During the visit, they toured the post-production sound and video department, LED virtual studio, and outdoor shooting locations, gaining a detailed understanding of the facilities and technology at the hub of China’s film production industry.

During the discussions, Rosa introduced the recent situation of Brazil’s film industry and inquired about the current requirements for importing foreign films into China. 

While expressing great expectations for cooperation, he announced the decision to invite a delegation of Chinese filmmakers to Brazil for in-depth exchanges in the near future. 

He also hoped that through film screenings, film imports and exports, co-productions, and other means, both countries can enhance cultural ­exchanges and mutual learning, continuing the friendship between China and Brazil.

“By continuously deepening cultural exchanges between the peoples of both countries, we can promote mutual understanding and use this as a driving force to expand economic and trade exchanges into multiple areas,” Rosa said.

The year also marks the one-year anniversary of the China-proposed Global Civilization Initiative. 

Rosa told the Global Times that besides films, the two countries also have a large potential for cooperation in other cultural fields, including literature, dance and the circus.

As film serves as a vital bridge for communication between nations, the exchange of film cultures between ­China and Brazil paves the way for ­mutual learning and industry development. By leveraging the power of film, both countries can strengthen cultural bonds, enhance mutual respect, and foster lasting friendship. 

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. [email protected]