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Chinese films showcased at Toronto film festival

By RENA LI in Toronto | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-09-14 09:54

A poster for the film Return to Dust. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

After two years of virtual live events, the 47th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) marks a big post-pandemic return to the physical realm with 200 feature films and 50 shorts on the roster from Sept 8-18.

The Chinese movie Return to Dust is among the festival's list of Contemporary World Cinema, which compels stories from a global perspective.

Directed by Li Ruijun, the film tells the tale of two middle-aged adults who have a marriage in a rural town in Gansu province in Northwest China. What seems at first like an odd and doomed relationship gradually blossoms into a gentle late-life love romance and tender companionship.

"This film is a love story," Li told media. "But it's a film about love in many layers. There's romantic love, but also love of the land, love for other people, love for the world and the environment, love for animals, and love for family. This is a film about the greater things in life."

Data from consultancy Artisan Gateway showed Return to Dust grossing $5.3 million between Friday and Sunday. Those three days accounted for nearly half of the $12.7 million cumulative total it has earned since its release on July 8, 2022.

Meanwhile, the fourth Chinese Film Industry Exhibition presented nine outstanding Chinese films at the festival, which have attracted much interest from filmmakers and publishers from different countries in the world.

The styles and genres of selected films include patriotic heroes, tributes, co-produced animation, female action-suspense, and documentary. The diversity of shortlisted films highlights the unremitting attempts of Chinese filmmakers to explore the genre films, according to Lisa Lin, organizer and president of the Cultural and Art Exchange Association of North America.

Among the shortlisted films, the most typical patriotic hero-themed one is Life of Buda, which is based on the true story of a former Tibetan serf who experienced life changes since the peaceful liberation of Tibet. Kong & Jigme is another story of the national integration in Tibet.

Childhood Zhou Enlai is a tribute film to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the Chinese former premier's birth.

Love and growth are eternal topics in Chinese movie storytelling.

The animated film Lost In-between tells the story of Wen Yan, who lost her mother at an early age and started a wonderful journey of life with love and courage.

Shock the Ring depicts a boxer's strength and determination to fight with life and never bow to fate.

One Thousand and One Nights Save the Golden City interprets the true meaning of friendship, family, and love.

Mulan Angels puts the concept of the metaverse in the film, integrating action, love and suspense and is committed to creating an "Asian version of Charlie's Angels".

The documentary 1950 They Are Young, which records the precious national memory of the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea, and Promise through Life Time, adapted from the real story of Zhang Yugun, one of the "Top Ten People Touching China in 2018", pay tribute to the heroes who defended their families and country.

"The diversity of the films shows that the Chinese film industry has started to bottom out since COVID-19, and it's going to a market recovery period," Lin told China Daily.

As of end of August, the total Chinese cinema box office (including pre-sale) of the 2022 summer program officially exceeded 9 billion yuan, surpassing the total box office of last year's summer program of 7.381 billion yuan, according to Maoyan Professional Edition data.

"The vitality of China's film market and the industrial impetus are being continuously stimulated," Lin added.

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