China Film & Television Festival focuses on the nation's cinema

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      Eramyina couldn’t hold back her tears at the 4th China Film & Television Festival news conference at a Chinese restaurant in Richmond on September 28. The Chinese actor tried to talk about the earthquake that not only destroyed much of the amazing scenery featured in the film Erma’s Wedding, but also took the lives of her fellow cast members. “The actors,” she said in Mandarin, “many of them are not here anymore”¦”

      According to director Wanfeng Han, Erma’s Wedding is the first film about the Qiang people. The ethnic group lives in northwestern Sichuan province, where a 7.9-magnitude earthquake hit on May 12. It caused about 70,000 deaths and left many missing or injured. Han said in Mandarin that China has preserved the film in its archive collection, as it extensively records the pre-earthquake Sichuan landscape.

      Han’s film is one of six films from Mainland China, alongside two from Hong Kong and one from Taiwan, that will be featured at the 4th China Film & Television Festival (Canada) ( ). The festival will run from next Wednesday to Monday (October 8 to 13) at the Oakridge and Granville 7 cinemas. Selections range from a young romance (Magic Boy) to a big-budget war story (Assembly). The Vancouver opening ceremony was held on September 29. (An earlier ceremony was held on September 20 in Taizhou in China’s Zhejiang province.)

      As the festival’s executive president, Hong Kong producer-director-actor Eric Tsang (Infernal Affairs trilogy, CBC’s Dragon Boys) has visited Vancouver several times over the past four years to help promote the festival within the local Chinese Canadian community. When the Straight informed him, in Cantonese, that his production High Noon was being screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival, he was surprised to learn that it had been selected by the VIFF, and that the film’s director, Heiward Mak, was in town. He hadn’t realized that the China Film & Television Festival overlapped the VIFF.

      Tsang explained how High Noon is connected to The Winds of September, a Taiwanese film also produced by him that closes the China Film & Television Festival. “When I read the original script, I found it interesting that with the same story setting, it could be very different if it took place in Hong Kong or in China, rather than in Taiwan.

      For example, my character in Infernal Affairs becomes quite a different character in [Martin] Scorsese’s The Departed, because my version reflects our unique Chinese culture, while Scorsese’s version reflects the American culture. With this concept, I used the same story setting of Taiwan’s The Winds of September and produced a Hong Kong version and a [Mainland] China version. The one you’ll see in this festival is the original Taiwan version.”

      In addition to Vancouver, the festival will be shown in Los Angeles and Sydney before ending with a closing ceremony in Nanjing, China, at the end of October.