Preview: Shanghai International Film Festival

By Andrew Chin, June 5, 2016

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Sir Ian McKellen will be among the stars to walk the red carpet at the 19th Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF). With hundreds of films screening across the city from June 11-19, China’s largest film festival is full of highlights for even the pickiest of cinephiles. Tickets are on sale now and expect them to be snatched fast. Here's what you can expect from this year's festival. Click on the movie links to see date and venue options.

Academy Award Winners

SIFF: Award Winners (Spotlight)

With China’s foreign cinematic quotas filled with big-budget blockbusters, SIFF provides a rare chance to see recent Oscar winners on the big screen. This year’s Academy Award winners for Best Film (Spotlight), Best Actress (Brie Larson in Room), Best Supporting Actress (Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl) and Best Adapted Screenplay (A Big Short) are among this year’s highlights.

Other recent critic faves to make their Shanghai big screen debuts include the Stephen Spielberg directed Bridge of Spies, the Michael Fassbender -starred biopic Steve Jobs, the Nick Hornby-penned Brooklyn and the latest David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence collaboration, Joy.

SIFF: Miles Ahead

SIFF will also dip into past award winners like Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Last King of Scotland, while screening contenders for next year's awards like the Don Cheadle starring and directed, Miles Ahead, a bio-pic of jazz legend Miles Davis. The festival will also show critically and commercially acclaimed Mainland hits like the winner of last Christmas holiday's box office, Mr. Six.

Retrospective Programmes

Shakespeare on Film

Sir Ian’s visit highlights the British Film Institute (BFI)'s co-curated Shakespeare on Film showcase, which includes a June 12 talk by the Academy Award winner about his role in 1995’s Richard III. Also included in the programme is Silent Shakepeare (a compilation of the best silent film Bard adaptations), the 1948 Laurence Olivier starring Hamlet and Kenneth Branaugh's Hamlet.

Harry Potter

SIFF: Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling is promising to reveal something big in Shanghai as all eight films in the hit Harry Potter series will be shown once again on Shanghai's big screens. Click the links for dates and venues for screenings of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneHarry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,  Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireHarry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixHarry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceHarry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Pt. 1 and Pt. 2.  

James Bond

SIFF: James Bond

Daniel Craig may have had enough of the super sleuth but Shanghai continues its love affair with 007 that was cemented in the city's appearance in Skyfall. The James Bond programme features newly restored versions of classics like From Russia with Love (4K restoration), 1967's Casino RoyaleThe Spy Who Loved MeOn Her Majesty's Secret Service and The Living Daylights) with the debuts of Pierce Brosnan in Golden Eye and Daniel Craig in 2006’s Casino Royale.


SIFF: Pixar

We're just a couple weeks away from the much anticipated release of Finding Dory and in anticipation, Pixar will be featuring six of their classic films in SIFF: Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc. WALL•E, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Up!. The festival shows will mark the first theatrical screenings in China of Monsters, Inc and WALL•E.

Tribute to Masters Programme

SIFF: Tribute to Masters (Woody Allen)

In a festival tradition, SIFF pays tribute to four film masters. This year, they tip their hat to Woody Allen whose upcoming film Café Society will be shown a month after its Cannes debut and a month before its worldwide release. Also on tap, are screenings of Midnight in ParisTo Rome With LoveMagic in the Moonlight and Irrational Man.

SIFF: Andrei Tarkovsky

Other SIFF retrospectives will honor the filmographies of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris, StalkerNostalgia, The Steamroller and the Violin, Andrei Rublev, The Sacrifice, Mirror and Ivan's Childhood.); beloved Hong Kong actor Leslie Cheung (Double Tap, Moonlight Express, The Bride with White Hair, All's Well, Ends Well, Once a Thief, Days of Being Wild, A Chinese Ghost Story) and neorealistic master Luchino Visconti (SandraThe Earth TremblesWhite NightsRocco and His BrothersSenso and Death in Venice.)

4K Restorations

SIFF: Dracula 4KSince its 2013 presentation of Laurence of Arabia, screenings of 4K restorations of classic films has been a SIFF staple. While there are more films to be announced,  those confirmed are an eclectic bunch, including Yasujiro Ozu's Late Spring, Francis Ford Coppola’s epic adaptation of Dracula and the Will Smith star-making Independence Day.

Jackie Chan Action Movie Week

SIFF: Sicario

Last year, the action movie legend introduced this celebration of the genre with audience selected awards and an impressive programme covering some of the world's most thrilling recent films. This year's slate features the Emily Blunt starring Sicarrio in 4K version, South Korean action hit Veteran and the premiere of The Bodyguard. Directed and starring Yue Song, the film features some of the Mainland's most respected action stars and boasts action scenes without any special effects or "cheating."

International Panorama

SIFF: Son of Saul

Celebrating cinema from around the world is one of SIFF’s mandates and this year’s Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film, Son of Saul, highlights this year’s international picks. Other award-winners screened include the Colin Farrell starring The Lobster, legendary Russian director Alexander Sokurov’s latest Francofonia and Gianfranco Rosi’s Fire at Sea, which became the first documentary to win the coveted Golden Bear Prize at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.

The Golden Goblet Award

The Golden Goblet

Two-time Palme D’Or winner Emir Kusturica follows in the footsteps of award-winning directors Tom Hooper, Wong Kar-wai and Danny Boyle in presiding over SIFF’s main competition. Over 2,000 films from more than 100 countries have been submitted with short-listed selections in the feature-length films, documentary and animation films categories screened throughout the festival. Last year, French and Belgian co-production The Night Watchman claimed the Best Films Award while Chinese director Cao Baoping picked up Best Director honors for The Dead End, which went on to be an arthouse hit last year.

June 11-19, various locations, RMB40-60 per ticket. For more information, visit

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