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Chinese stars rise at Cannes film fest

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-22 08:03
Wei Shujun takes a photo with Australian director Charles Williams, who won the Short Film Palme d'Or for his movie, All These Creatures. [Photo provided to China Daily]

With the curtain falling on 71st Cannes Film Festival, two young Chinese directors have become the latest winners at the world-renowned event.

Wei Shujun, a 27-year-old director from Beijing, took home the Special Mention award-an honor second to the Palme d'Or in the shortfilm category-for his 15-minute film, entitled On the Border.

"My name was the first to be announced (as one of the winners). I was very excited," Wei told China Daily in a telephone interview on Sunday.

The young filmmaker graduated from the Communication University of China. He came up with the idea to shoot On the Border during a trip to the Yanbian Korean autonomous prefecture in Jilin province in 2016.

Seeing that the area's inhabitants are mostly elderly people, as the younger generations left for the bigger cities and better lives, he was inspired to create a story set against such a backdrop.

The story follows an ethnic Korean teenager named Hua Dongxing who leaves his hometown in a remote village to find his city-dwelling father, whom he hopes will finance his dream trip to South Korea.

"It's about the growing pains that most of us have experienced," Wei explains. "The movie looks into two common themes for youngsters: a craving for the outside world, and the unspoken yearning for romance."

Shen Di from the Shanghai Theater Academy was the other rising Chinese star at Cannes. She shared the second prize from Cinefondation, which is primarily dedicated to submissions made by film-school students, with Igor Poplauhin of the Moscow School of New Cinema.

The Storms in Our Blood won the 24-year-old director Shen Di the second prize of Cinefondation in the 71st Cannes Film Festival. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Shen won the award for her 31-minute short movie, The Storms in Our Blood, which shared the award with Poplauhin's Calendar.

Loosely based on a true story about Shen's English-language tutor, The Storms in Our Blood-which Shen wrote and shot in just 15 days-centers on a Kenyan woman, portrayed by actress Jane Mansah, a Ghanaian student who is studying in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, who meets a Chinese sailor at a port city in Africa and voyages to a far-flung Chinese village to marry him.

"I was so happy about the award. I took it as a wonderful birthday present," says Shen, who turned 24 on May 17, the day the results were announced.

This year, competition was stiff, with the selection for the three Cinefondation prizes shortlisted to just 17 student films, chosen from among 2,426 entries submitted by 512 film schools from around the world.

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