Drama and fantasy in the 18th Spring Film Festival

Drama and fantasy in the 18th Spring Film Festival

THE BEST of Chinese cinema today will be brought to light in this year’s Spring Film Festival at the Shangri-La Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong City.

This 18th edition of the film festival runs from Jan. 23 to 30, and it will screen six Chinese films for free. One of these is the opening film, Zhang Yimou’s 2023 historical thriller Full River Red, which was the highest-grossing Chinese film of the year.

Full River Red is set in the Song Dynasty, when a mysterious murder occurs at Chancellor Quin Hui’s residence and leads to a larger conspiracy concerning the fate of the empire. It stars Shen Teng and Jackson Yee. “This dark comedy explores themes of betrayal and patriotism,” said a press release.

Those seeking some thrilling action can watch The Captain (2019) by renowned Hong Kong director Andrew Lau. In this true story based on the Sichuan Airlines Flight 8633 incident, where a pilot must ensure the safety of 128 passengers and crew when the plane’s windshield is damaged mid-flight. The incident is regarded as one of the miracles in aviation history.

Looking Up (2019) by Deng Chao, who also plays the lead role, is a heartrending drama about an astronaut who, stranded in space, draws strength from his enduring connection with his father. It won Best Film at the 11th Macau International Movie Festival.

For those who want to know more about Chinese folk tales, White Snake (2019) by Amp Wong and Zhao Ji is based on a very popular one. The animated US-China co-production tells the story of a white snake that magically turns into a woman and marries a scholar.

Meanwhile, the epic fantasy Legend of the Demon Cat (2017) by Chinese auteur Chen Kaige presents an immersive, live-action world. It follows poet Bai Letain and monk Kukai as they investigate the death of the emperor’s concubine, a task made harder when a demon cat wreaks havoc in their city.

The last movie is the disaster film The Bravest (2019) by Hong Kong filmmaker Tony Chan and starring Chinese A-lister Huang Xiaoming. It tells the story of several firefighters as they struggle to contain a huge fire after an oil pipeline explodes. It is based on the real-life Xingang Port oil spill incident.

Admission to the screenings is free on a first-come, first-served basis.

Aside from the film festival, there will be several related activities.

Mall visitors can join a Chinese Painting Workshop on Jan. 27, 2 p.m., at the Grand Atrium. Leading the workshop is Art Association of the Philippines president Fidel M. Sarmiento.

There will also be a special photo exhibit at the East Atrium, organized by the Embassy of China in the Philippines and Chinatown TV. Nihao, China features photos of iconic landmarks and landscapes across China, and different ways and traditions to celebrate the Chinese New Year (which falls on Feb. 10 this year). There will also be posters of fortune predictions per zodiac animal for the Year of the Dragon.

The film festival, which runs until Jan. 30 at the Red Carpet Cinemas of the mall, is organized by the Ateneo Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies and the Film Development Council of the Philippines.

For the full screening schedule and more information, visit the Spring Film Festival and Shangri-La mall social media pages. — Brontë H. Lacsamana