Jia Zhangke Launches Pingyao ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ International Film Festival

Small in scale, the Pingyao Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon International Film Festival will be China’s first ’boutique’ film festival and will focus on non-Western films.

Speaking at a press conference at the China Film Directors Center in Beijing on Thursday, the auteur said the new festival represented a dream come true.

“I have been living a double life since the very first film I made when I was 27,” Jia said. “On the one hand, I have been telling stories with films that have deep roots in Shanxi and China. Yet, on the other hand, I shuttled through all kinds of international film festivals around the world with my films.”“I constantly wondered during the journey when we’d be able to have a film festival in our own country, in our own hometown, to let people look at our culture and our work and to contribute our reviews and opinions of the world’s films.”

The inaugural festival will be held from October 19 to 26 this year in Pingyao, Shanxi — director Jia’s home turf. Many of Jia’s early, underground films were set in Shanxi, and he even owns and operates a noodle restaurant in his hometown of Fenyang in the province.The ancient walled city of Pingyao sits 444 miles southwest of the Chinese capital and can be reached by high-speed train in around four hours. Events will be held in the Culture and Art District within the ancient city.

Joining Jia at the press conference was veteran film festival director Marco Mueller who is set to serve as Art Director for the Pingyao event after abruptly quitting as festival director of the International Film Festival & Awards Macao last year. Before that, Mueller had been a chief advisor and selector at the Beijing International Film Festival and then the Silk Road Festival. Mueller was also a former artistic chief at the Rome, Venice, and Locarno festivals.

Mueller said Taiwan-born and Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee had given the festival permission to use the name of his 2000 kung fu epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The event’s Special Focus on Genre Film section will be dubbed “Crouching Tiger,” while the New Directors Competition will be dubbed “Hidden Dragon.”

Mueller said the festival will “show a limited number of very special films.” Wang Jiahuan, the festival’s Chief Content Officer, said those films will be reviewed by a team of both foreign and local critics.

Organizers described the event as being “commercially operated and government guided.” It will be sponsored by the Pingyao Film Festival company with the support of the Publicity Department of the Shanxi Provincial Government, Jinzhong Municipal Government, and the Pingyao Government.