Cannes 2017: Chinese films absent but publicity seekers abound

Updated 2017-05-19 15:01:17 CGTN
Jury member for the 70th Cannes International Film Festival, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing (3rd R) poses for photos on the red carpet at the opening of the 70th Cannes International Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 17, 2017. The 70th Cannes International Film Festival is held here from May 17 to May 28. (Xinhua/Chen Yichen)

Jury member for the 70th Cannes International Film Festival, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing (3rd R) poses for photos on the red carpet at the opening of the 70th Cannes International Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 17, 2017. The 70th Cannes International Film Festival is held here from May 17 to May 28. (Xinhua/Chen Yichen)

In the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, Chinese faces abound, adding more glitter to the glamorous red carpet event. However, movie entries from the Asian country are in dearth.

A year after the conspicuous absence of China in the 2016 edition of Cannes, a lone Chinese film is quietly back to one of the world's most prestigious annual cinematic events.

Chinese writer-director Li Ruijun's film "Walking Past the Future" made it to Un Certain Regard – a sidebar of the event that celebrates movies told in nontraditional ways.

The movie is alone in representing China's big-screen productions in Cannes.

The film was only added to the line-up at the last minute: when the 70th Cannes Film Festival first unveiled its much-anticipated official selection last month, not a single Chinese title was included.

While China has become the world's second-largest film market in terms of box office revenue, Chinese film works are yet to strike a chord with international moviegoers.

In response to a question on Chinese films' absence during a press conference ahead of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, Thierry Fremaux, head of the festival, said "more commercial" Chinese films are "not exactly the kind of thing we should present in Cannes".

When Gong Li was asked about the absence of Chinese films at the Cannes Film Festival this time last year, the outspoken actress lambasted the domestic film industry for being money-driven rather than caring about artistic values.

"We need to tell everyone that a movie is not merely for entertainment. It might leave you with something much deeper for your soul. It's not just for laughs, not just for jokes. It's more than that. There are not a lot of people talking about that in China right now," she noted.

Despite Chinese movies being put on mute during the event, stars from China took over the show, stealing the spotlight and everyone's breath.

Frequent guests such as Fan Bingbing and Li Yuchun, and other popular actresses like Yang Zishan and Wang Luodan shone on the red carpet, but some Chinese faces even startled the audience at home. Those included live-streaming hosts, online cosmetics seller and a porn star from Hong Kong SAR.

Faces were not the only source of surprise at the star-studded event, fashion was another hotly debated topic.

While big names looked their most elegant in elaborate gowns or suits, other obscure figures dressed more to cause a stir than to impress, earning thumbs down from netizens.

An online celebrity's attempt to make of patriotism a fashion statement by wearing the Chinese national flag was countered with a slew of blistering comments from on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

"It's a shame that the woman should resort to the sacred national flag to market herself," a user who goes by the name @Tianlaotouer commented.

"Why can such lowbrow online celebrities make their way to the Cannes Film Festival red carpet? The organizer should raise the standard," said another user named @xibeijingjingjing.

Turning heads and cameras on the red carpet through fashion is nothing new, as making an appearance at an overseas event has long been considered a shortcut by many rising stars to boost their profiles at home. Even China's sweetheart Fan Bingbing, who is a jury member at this year's festival, managed for years to make headlines through her shiny gowns that wowed cameramen along red carpet that leads to the Palais de Cinema.

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