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A Guide to the Shanghai International Film Festival 2023

A city-wide public celebration of international films kicks off on June 9.
2023-05-31 20:00:00


Following a year's hiatus, the Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) is set to commence this June. The grand opening ceremony will be held on June 9th and will conclude with the Golden Goblet Award ceremony on the evening of June 18.

Over 400 international films will be showcased in 41 cinemas in our vicinity, offering a balanced mix of mainstream and art-house films in a diverse range of languages.

What You Need to Know First

Before delving into the highlights of this festival, let's first discuss a few ticket purchasing tips. After all, what good is it knowing the lineup if you can't secure a seat? The complete schedule is now available at SIFF's official website and will go on sale via SIFF's official partner, Taopiaopiao (淘票票), on Friday, June 2nd at 12:00 pm sharp.

Unlike previous years, when alarm clocks were set for 8 am amidst the struggle of navigating through heavy Internet traffic, this year promises to be even more INTENSE. This is because tickets go on sale at NOON, when all the cinema enthusiasts in town will be wide awake and competing for tickets.

Our advice if you're a first-timer:

  • Download Taopiaopiao (淘票票) on your phone, register an account, and log in ahead of time - don't wait until June 2nd.
  • Review the full schedule and make a note of the films and dates you're interested in. The app allows you to add these films to a personal folder in your account – take advantage of this feature.
  • Set an alarm for 12:00 pm, but be prepared to delay your lunch a bit. If you get a 'crashed' message when refreshing the page, don't fret. This is normal for such a busy day – just keep refreshing. Once you're in, make your seat selections as swiftly as possible.
  • Only when the film shows ‘Sold Out' (售罄) and all the seats are greyed out, should you move on to your next choice.

From past experience, it's unlikely you'll secure all the tickets you want initially. However, being prepared will increase your chances of getting some. And in the end, it's worth the effort.

Don't despair if you can't get a single ticket. Given the fervor after a year's hiatus, who can predict how intense the competition will be? During the 10-day festival, there will always be ticket holders unable to attend who will need to transfer their tickets. You can find such tickets on Xianyu(闲鱼)or other reputable second-hand platforms. We advise against purchasing overpriced tickets. Typically, people unable to attend at the last minute will resell their tickets at the original price or less.

Good luck! Now let's dive into the festival's highlights.

2023 Highlights

As mentioned above, over 400 films will be screened, ranging from nostalgic classics by esteemed directors to films making their world debut. Some have recently won accolades at the Oscars or Venice, while others are hard to find in mainstream theaters. Twelve new films, including the highly anticipated Chinese film Dust To Dust, will compete for the 25th Golden Goblet Award.

Here's some of the films we look forward to for the 25th Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) :

1. Moonage Daydream (in IMAX): This 2022 documentary about David Bowie promises an immersive journey through the legend's life and music, complete with extraterrestrial visuals. SIFF's IMAX selection never disappoints. (Showing on June 10, June 11, June 15, and June 17 at multiple cinemas including SFC Yonghua Cinema City)

Other notable IMAX features: The Suicide Squad from DC, Jordan Peele's Nope, and the 1998 American thriller, π, marking its 25th anniversary.

2. World War III: This multi-award-winning feature film from Iranian director Houman Seyedi, starting as a dark comedy before escalating into a more violent and unsettling drama, is not for the faint-hearted. It won Best Picture at the Venice Horizons Award and received a special jury prize from the 2022 Tokyo International Film Festival. (Showing on June 11-13, and June 17-18 at multiple cinemas)

3. Aftersun: A Cannes Fest breakout hit, Aftersun explores the intricate relationship between a father and daughter. This film marks Charlotte Wells' directorial feature debut. (Showing on June 9, June 12, June 15, June 17, and June 18 at multiple cinemas)

Other noteworthy new releases: British film Scrapper, featuring Harris Dickinson, and the spirited French drama, Dalva, directed by Belgian filmmaker Emmanuelle Nicot.

4. The Plough (French: Le Grand Chariot): This is the 26th film by French director Philippe Garrel and one of his few color films. It pays tribute to his late father Maurice's background as a puppeteer. (Showing on June 10, June 13, and June 15-17 at multiple cinemas)

5. Memories of Murder: A Korean classic about a rural serial killer by the beloved director Bong Joon-ho. SIFF presents it to celebrate 20 years since the film premiered in 2003. (June 10-12, and June 16-18, at multiple cinemas)

6. Everything from The Animation Unit. Yes, it includes Hideaki Anno's Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time, the final film in the series that makes EVA fans go crazy. You will also have a chance to check out the amazing Coco and Soul by Pixar studio, and the new lighthearted and colorful Chicken for Linda!

7. All from the 4K Restoration Project, including a strong line-up of The Godfather, The Last Emperor, Hou Hsiao-hsien's A City of Sadness, and cult vampire-killing classic Blade. What a precious opportunity to watch them in 4K on a giant screen. Seriously, check them all out!

8. Everything Everywhere All At Once: A24's most successful and record-breaking movie ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once' starring Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan probably needs no introduction, as it swept the Oscars this year, including Best Picture. (June 11, June 13-15, June 17, and June 18, at multiple cinemas including Hoyts Cinema). SmartShanghai loved this movie! Hot dog fingers ftw baby.

9. The entire Jurassic series will be showcased to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first Jurassic Park film by Steven Spielberg. This offers a chance for families to experience the riveting combination of technology and humanities in a cinematic context.