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A Short Guide to the 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival

Jun 7, 2019 | 08:00 Fri
Shanghai International Film Festival always leaves me overwhelmed, irritated, and tired. It's overwhelming because I have to work out which one of the hundreds of film screening and Q&A events at 47 venues over 10 days to see, irritating because I have to prioritize which tickets to grab based on their popularity and tiring because going to cinemas five days in a row is actually physical demanding. Still, I let it take my money every year. Because it's fucking awesome. Here's what's happening.


Flowers of Shanghai, a stylish 1990s film by Hou Hsiao-Hsien will be shown in 4K for the first time at SIFF

The 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival will be held from June 16 to June 24. Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan is the President of the Jury for the SIFF Golden Goblet Awards, meaning fans will get a thorough view of his portfolio. Similarly, there are tributes to Theodoros Angelopoulos, Robert Bresson, Frederick Wiseman, and John Cassavetes, as well as some of the winners from this year's Festival de Cannes and Sundance, plus special sessions dedicated to films from all over the world (Iran, Indonesia, Danmark, Germany, Italy, etc). More on that later.

The 22nd SIFF program also features Spain's highest-grossing Spanish film of the year, Dolor y gloria

Important Dates and Facts:

The screening schedule will be available on SIFF's official website (EN) at 8pm, June 6. Official SIFF venues cover all the major cinemas in 16 districts in Shanghai, with many 4K restored screenings and IMAX space-y films taking place at those high-specs ones.

Tickets will be available at 8am, June 8 (Saturday), exclusively on Taopiaopiao, which you can access easily through Alipay -- click the SIFF banner on the front page to add movies to your "to watch" list.

Most of the SIFF tickets cost 60rmb. Films that have runtimes over 3 hours might cost 120rmb+.

All the screenings will be uncensored, in their original language with Chinese subtitles. The exception this year is the 25th Anniversary version of Schindler's List, which will be in both 4K and Dolby Cinema formats without Chinese subtitles.

Mad Max: Fury Road, Black & Chrome edition finally make it to Shanghai after SIFF's five-year long chase for distribution rights.

Screenings Worth Checking Out:

Cinephiles in Shanghai will find themselves having a tough time narrowing down what they want to catch during SIFF. Here are a few options that might help you grasp the scope of this year's program.

1. Havoc in Heaven: 2K restoration of the hand-animated, trippy visual feast of the Monkey King's rebellion.

2. Sátántangó (Santa's Tango): seven-hour long world-cinema classic restored in 4K.

3. Varda par Agnès: the last work from the godmother of French New Wave film movement.

4. Mad Max: Fury Road Black & Chrome edition: the best action film in its best version.

5. On Her Shoulders: a personal and careful retelling about the life of a 23-year-old Yazidi genocide and ISIS survivor.


6. Hubble 3D: a breathtaking and thrilling documentary about NASA's 2009 flight to see the galaxy.

7. Flowers of Shanghai: the world debut of the 4K restoration of Hou Hsiao-Hsien's iconic work.

8. A Private War: Rosamund Pike playing a real-life war journalist Marie Colvin, directed by an award-wining documentary filmmaker.

9. Amazing Grace: one of this year's most praised music documentaries, an intimate look at Aretha Franklin's 1972 concert at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles.

10. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote: Terry Gilliam's decades-long passion project.


11. Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory): Pedro Almodóvar, Spain's most celebrated director, reflects on his own career with a semi-biopic.

12. State v. Shuai: a documentary about Bei Bei Shuai, a Chinese immigrant to the United States who became the first woman in Indiana to be charged with feticide because of her attempted suicide.

13. RBG: one of the most critically-acclaimed documentaries of last year, on the life and career of the second female Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

14. Diner: Mika Ninagawa's first fictional film since 2012, about a girl who's forced to work at a diner that only serves contract killers.

15. We Are Little Zombies: one of the most highly-praised premieres at Sundance this year, a sensory overload slash cinematic experience about four Japanese teens unable to cry after the death of their parents, so they form a rock band.

Get booking!


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