The Fairmont Peace Hotel, located on Shanghai’s iconic Bund waterfront promenade, is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. The Art Deco north building, originally known as Sassoon House (after owner Victor Sassoon), dates its associations with the hospitality industry back to 1929, when the Cathay Hotel began operating on several floors of the high-rise.
To mark the hotel’s 90th anniversary, its current managing company, Canada’s Fairmont Hotel & Resorts, collaborated with First Short Film Project to produce “Romance in Silence” (不会说话的爱情), a six-minute short film set on the historic property starring young actors Zhuyan Manzi and Li Hong-chi.
The film portrays the blossoming of a modern-day romance between two guests at the hotel, one of whom is partly deaf and uses a hearing aid. It shifts between rich color and black and white, regular audio, silence, and sounds as heard through the young male protagonist’s hearing device. In the silent, black and white segment, the use of slapstick comedy pays tribute to Charlie Chaplin and his 1936 stay at the hotel with Paulette Goddard, a few months before their secret wedding.Another scene takes place in the hotel’s famed Jazz Bar, where the current average age of musicians in the house band is 82, adding to the historical resonance.
“Romance in Silence” premiered at the First International Film Festival in the short film section, which serves as a training platform for young filmmakers to develop their craft. Its director, Brandon Qiu (Qiu Sheng), previously won the best feature award at First in 2018 for “Suburban Birds” (郊区的鸟).
The film fits in with a broader initiative by Fairmont to promote the hotel chain’s longstanding connections to the movie industry. Launched last year, Fairmont Loves Film emphasizes the role that the hotel chain’s properties have played in more than 250 movies throughout the years, including “Vertigo” (1958), “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), and “Empire of the Sun” (1987), which had a scene shot at the Peace Hotel. The campaign includes other branded films that showcase the relationship between Fairmont and its cinematic history, as well as worldwide pop-up events, such as a retrospective photo exhibition held at the Toronto International Film Festival. The campaign traveled to China in June during the Shanghai International Film Festival.