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A Chinese classic endures

By Liu Wei | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-29 07:13

 A Chinese classic endures

Xia Yu (right) plays the leading actor in In the Heat of the Sun, the directorial debut of Jiang Wen (top), which will be screened again at Lido (left), as part of the Venice Classics section in the 70th Venice International Film Festival.

Nineteen years after director Jiang Wen's In the Heat of the Sun debuted at the Venice Film Festival to wide acclaim, it will again be screened at the prestigious event, and Jiang will sit on the festival's judging panel. Liu Wei reports.

Chinese actor and director Jiang Wen's directorial debut In the Heat of the Sun had its world premiere in Venice. The film depicting the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) from the perspective of a teenage boy made actor Xia Yu, then 17, the youngest winner of the Best Actor award at the Venice International Film Festival. Nineteen years later, the film will again be screened in Lido as part of the Venice Classics section, featuring 40 restored feature films and documentaries. The restored film has some scenes that were not included in the original version and is about seven minutes longer.

Jiang will also be a member of the judging panel for the festival's 70th edition, which kicked off on Aug 28 and will run for 11 days.

In the 19 years between the two journeys to Venice, Jiang directed only three films. He explored some unpleasant aspects of the Chinese character in Devils on the Doorstep in 1999. The film won the Grand Jury Prize in Cannes but was not released in Chinese theaters.

His poetic drama The Sun also Rises in 2007 won over critics, thanks to its splendid visual wonders and subversive narrative skills, but was not well received at the box office.

But Jiang soon proved he knows about industry, too, by making Let the Bullets Fly in 2011, the first local film to gross more than $100 million in China.

The 70th Venice festival claims its aim is to "raise awareness and promote various aspects of international cinema in all its forms: as art, entertainment and as an industry". In this sense, Jiang is no doubt a qualified judge.

The 50-year-old will work with eight judges including English director Andrea Arnold and celebrated French director of photography Renato Berta. Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci will lead the jury.

They will select from 20 films for the competition section, including one Chinese-language film, which is Taiwanese art-house director Tsai Ming-liang's Stray Dogs. The film revolves around a father who has lost his job in Taiwan.

Jiang and Tsai are meeting in Venice for the third time. When In the Heat of the Sun won Best Actor in 1994, Tsai's Vive L'Amour won Golden Lion for Best Film. In 2007 Tsai's Help Me Eros entered the competition section, so did Jiang's The Sun also Rises, but neither won any award.

Accompanying Jiang is his wife Zhou Yun and an American choreographer. Jiang's hotly anticipated film, his first since Let the Bullets Fly, is said to be a musical.

Jiang's publicist has confirmed that the film, titled Gone with the Bullets, stars Jiang himself, senior comedian Ge You, veteran actor Wang Zhiwen and rising star Wen Zhang. Singing and dancing would be an important part of the story set in Shanghai in the 1920s.

The filming will start in November and the film is expected to be released in winter 2014. The year also marks the 20-year anniversary of In the Heat of the Sun. According to Yan the publicist, Jiang's company is trying to release the film's restored version in Chinese cinemas.

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