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Tradition of humor is no laughing matter

By Li Yingxue and Wu Yong | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-18 06:18

Hong Kong actor Wong Cho-lam performs at the closing ceremony of the China (Shenyang) Comedy Film Week. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Comedy film week shows the hard work and creativity that goes into making a mark, Li Yingxue and Wu Yong report in Shenyang.

People in Northeast China are noted for their sense of humor. The region's famous fertile black soil, some claim, helps shape their outgoing nature. These traits, along with hard work and humor, are perfectly suited to the film sector. It's no coincidence that more than a century ago, Ren Qingtai from Shenyang, Liaoning province, incorporated comedic elements into China's first domestic film Dingjun Mountain. On Jan 22, 1949, China's first comedic animated film Go After an Easy Prey, premiered at the Hongda Cinema in Shenyang, now the Shenyang Cultural Palace theater.

Shenyang, the capital city of Liaoning, has a long and deep connection with comedy films and its "Northeast Style" has become an essential part of Chinese comedy. In recent years, popular comedic films and TV shows such as You Only Live Once, The Last Frenzy and Johnny Keep Walking have featured talents from Northeast China.

Early this summer, the city of Shenyang played host to a major comedy event. The inaugural China (Shenyang) Comedy Film Week, a five-day celebration of humor and film, concluded on the evening of June 11, drawing significant attention to the Northeast region.

With the theme "Comedy Gathers in Shenyang, Joy Blooms", the event ran from June 7-11, showcasing the region's vibrant comedic culture.

"By using comedy films as a medium, we've invited renowned comedy stars and showcased high-scoring classics to bring joy to Shenyang and celebrate this festive event," says Deng Song, deputy director of the Publicity Department of the CPC Shenyang Municipal Committee.

"We aim to highlight the beauty, rich culture and development of the Liaoning-Shenyang region to both domestic and international audiences, bolstering our efforts to create a 'high-quality model' for the integrated development of culture, sports and tourism," she says.

During the event, eight cinemas in Shenyang screened 15 classic comedy films, including Johnny Keep Walking, If You Are the One and Goodbye Mr Loser.

Lin Zhenyu, the chief director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the event, says these 15 films were carefully selected, featuring early realistic comedies, Golden Rooster Award winners, and recent hits with great reviews and box office success.

"We hope this event showcases the achievements and contributions of comedy since the founding of New China," Lin says.

In addition to movie screenings, the Comedy Film Week offered a wide range of activities. Filmmakers visited various cultural and tourist landmarks in the city, interacting closely with fans. They explored places like the Shenyang Imperial Palace, Zhongjie Street and the Xita food street.

Organizers also hosted five major events for the public, including "Coffee Youth Movie Time", the classic comedy music game "Guess Guess Guess", a showcase of domestic animated comedy films, visits to film locations of comedy movies, and a display of comedy film dubbing.

On the evening of June 11, the film week concluded with a grand event themed "Blending Tradition with Innovation, Combining Joy with Sentiment". The star-studded celebration featured renowned comedy stars, performing artists, directors, and actors delivering outstanding performances.

As the closing film of the event, this year's top-grossing May Day hit The Last Frenzy had its creators in attendance. Jia Bing, the lead actor and a native of Shenyang, says that the film's success is thanks to the support of hometown fans. "We'll keep making comedies to bring joy to everyone."

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