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The (almost) complete guide to this year’s Shanghai International Film Festival

Hundreds of films, dozens of cinemas and only one week to catch them

Image: Timvision Production (Bangla)
Covering 47 cinemas and hundreds of screens across town, the 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) runs from Sat 15 to Mon 24, and is bringing more than 300 motion pictures of all genres from China and abroad to Shanghai, including more than 40 official selections to compete for various Gold Goblet Awards. You can get your tickets through ‘Movies’ on Alipay (淘票票电影 in Chinese) from 8am on Sat 8, or you can purchase directly from box offices on the day of the film from 10am (which we don't recommend – tickets go fast).

To see the full programme and participating cinemas for this year's SIFF, visit its official website or follow official WeChat account ‘SIFFinShanghai’.
The Classics

The Classics

This category looks at film history over the past 100 years and plays films that are celebrating anniversaries. This year, you can see Pandora’s Box (1929), starring the legendary Louise Brooks. Other movies include Abel Gance’s anti-war classic J’accuse! (1919), Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Andrea Arnold’s coming-of-age drama Fish Tank (2009).

Animation

Animation

At this year’s SIFF, anime fans will not only be able to see Katsuhiro Otomo’s legendary Akira (1988), but also films from the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. If you’re leaning towards something more Mainland, check out the 2K-restored version of the Monkey King film Havoc in Heaven (1961/64) and Secrets of the Heavenly Book (1983), both of which played significant roles in the history of Chinese animation.

Documentaries

Documentaries

One of the most popular categories, this year pays tribute to the late ‘godmother’ of the French New Wave movement Agnès Varda by showing her very last project Varda by Agnès (2019). Also worth checking out are these incredible stories – the life of US Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in RBG (2018); a Chinese immigrant in America who was sued for having a miscarriage in Bei Bei (2019); a woman who assembled an all-female sailing team in Maiden (2018); and M.I.A’s journey from Sri Lankan political refugee to international pop superstar in Matangi/Maya/M.I.A (2018).

Restored Films

Restored Films

The intention behind 4K technology – digitising old film rolls of the classics, preserving and making them available for audiences of the next generation – is heart-warming, and so are this year’s line-ups. Check out Schindler’s List (1993), The Black Tulip (1964), French comedy classic La Grande Vadrouille (1966) and Hungarian director Béla Tarr’s 7.5-hour-long Satantango (1994). 

Films from Other Festivals

Films from Other Festivals

This category shows films that have done well in various film festivals across the globe. These films include François Ozon’s horrid tale of church abuse in By the Grace of God (2018), Jean-Luc Godard’s experimental commentary on the contemporary world in The Image Book (2018), a French drama about sexual abuse in Little Tickles (2018), Juliette Binoche’s latest drama about when an online relationship goes wrong in Who You Think I Am (2019) and a Kazakhstani mother’s heart-shattering tale in Ayka (2018). 

Tribute to Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Tribute to Nuri Bilge Ceylan

SIFF has appointed Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan as the president of the committee who will decide this year’s Gold Goblet Award winners. It will be showing Cocoon (1995), the short film that made a name for Ceylan at Cannes, together with eight feature-length films, including his Palme d’Or-winning Winter Sleep (2014) and his most recent work, The Wild Pear Tree (2018). 

Recent Releases

Recent Releases

This special screening shows the latest films from a select number of countries – this year it’s Italy, Japan, Germany, India and Iran, among others. Check out Bangladeshi-Italian director Phaim Bhuiyan’s debut love comedy, Bangla (2019), the quirky German fantasy Cleo: If I Could Turn Back Time (2019), an African football player’s story in Sudani from Nigeria (2018) and a critique on Iran’s patriarchy in Cold Sweat (2018). 

Cannes Films

Cannes Films

Coming straight out of the Cannes Film Festival that ended less than a month ago, these films will make their China debut way ahead of their official releases (if they are lucky enough to be released at all). Check out Pedro Almodóvar’s gorgeous portrayal of a jaded filmmaker past his prime in Pain & Glory (2019), starring Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz; Jury Prize winner Les Misérables (2019), a drama inspired by the riots of 2005 in Paris; a sharp critique of Britain’s societal problems in Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You (2019) and a futuristic allegory about a kind of flower that can affect human emotions in the fantastic sci-fi, Little Joe (2019).

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