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Shangai Film Fest awards and ambiance
Shanghai, once called the Paris of the East, is rapidly becoming one of the major cultural and financial destinations in the world. The Shanghai International Film Festival, sponsored by Jaeger Le Coultre , watch maker extraordinaire, wrapped its 15th edition Sunday night with a bang and a Closing night ceremony featuring a Broadway like production number. Chinese Superstar Chow Yun Fat received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Martial Arts legend Jackie Chan.
I've been a devotee of this fest for four years, and especially when it coincided with the World Expo in 2010 and the place was feverish with the anticipation of millions of visitors, and throwing $10 Billion into revitalizing the city with new infrastructures, highways, hotels, subways and museums. Danny Boyle (gleeful from seeing Chinese audiences gobble up "Slumdog Millionnaire") was president of the Jury then with a British contingency including Clive Owen and Stephen Daldry.
This year, the tradition of top directors heading the jury (Barry Levinson last year) continued with Jean Jacques Annaud as Jury President whose new film "Black Gold" was also presented. The French Consulate hosted a beautiful reception for him at their magnificent Gothic and Art Deco villa and gardens in the historic French Concession. Annaud is now in Beijing in meetings for his next film which will shoot in China.
Heather Graham added a splash of glamour to the Jury as did Chinese actress Li Bing Bing.
Female filmmakers were heralded here as actress Famke Janssen (who plays Liam Neeson's wife in Taken and Taken 2) presented her directorial debut "Bringing up Bobby" and Paula Ortiz, a terrific new director from Spain won two prizes for her competition film "Chrysalis" including a special Jury mention.
The Festival also held the China Beauty Charity Fund Gala to award grants to 4 emerging Chinese female directors in an effort to stimulate more women to enter their burgeoning but male-dominated Film Industry.
A major Red Carpet surprise was French Armenian legendary chanteur Charles Aznavour. Aznavour was named Entertainer of the Century by a CNN poll in 1998, edging out super stars Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. It's the 88-year-old master's first visit to Shanghai. He performed his most famous songs "She" and "Isabelle" at the Gala helping the foundation raise a record 2 million dollars.
Besides the French, the international contingency included the Italians throwing a jovial party in honor of films such as Nanni Moretti's "Habemus Papam" in the program and the Turks holding a well catered dinner reception for their Competition film.
The Canadians (Jury prize), Russians (Best actor), and the Thais joined in the fun with their bashes.
Iran is on an award winning spree with "BEAR" winning the Grand Prize Golden Goblet award of the Competition and excited director, Khosro Masoumi, hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow countryman and recent Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi.
Other visiting celebs included acclaimed actress Charlotte Rampling who came to promote her competition film "I Anna". She participated in a lively press conference with the director, Barnaby Southcombe, who also happens to be her son. Both were relishng their first visits to the city.
Actor Aaron Eckhart came to Shanghai as a special guest and to explore the city as a photographer. He came with full camera equipment, including 35mm cameras, and wandered the city at dawn capturing hundreds of images. He had been there two years ago to meet on potential film projects.
The lure of Chinese production money is in the air as well as the possible box office bonanza for films allowed to be distributed in that country. So much so that top Studio names as Rupert Murdoch, Jim Gianopolus, Sid Ganis, and Harvey Weinstein were in attendance last year, and sent several reps this year.
A Champagne fueled reception for top production entity Huayi Brothers was held by Moet Chandon, and Ferrari also held their Ferrari Racing Days, hosted by dapper Ferrari heir Lapo Elkann , and became the highlight for Aaron and many guests like myself who were invited to ride, and DRIVE, a Ferrari around the race track.
So after you watch a film, eat Dim Sum, drink Moet, drive a Ferrari, take a boat ride around the Bund, walk the Red Carpet and party all night, what do you do?
Well, take a tip from the locals. You head to the Open All Night spas and get a Foot massage, Chinese traditional massage, head massage, aromatherapy oils massage, "Chocolate Fondue Mask", "Regenerating peeling treatment", anti-aging facial, manicure, pedicure, and get ready to greet another day. I was addicted to this nightly ritual as were many other festival guests.
Then let's not forget Shanghai, the shopping paradise, where all the guests can't resist showing each other their various finds. Writer-director Nicholas Meyer showed off the beautiful new suit he had tailor made at the Fabric Market and Italian bombshell Maria Grazia Cucinotta led us to her favorite dressmakers to whip up some quick new duds. When you run out of space, pick up some spinning Samsonites at the local markets, and throw in a few gorgeous pearls for the hell of it.
What more can I say? Looking forward to it again next year.
Here's the rundown of the Award winners:
2012 GOLDEN GOBLET AWARDS in Shanghai
Best Film: Bear; dir. Khosro Masoumi [Iran]
Jury Prize: For the Love of God; dir. Micheline Lanctôt [Canada]
Best Director: Gao Qunshu for Beijing Blues [China]
Best Actor: Vladas Bagdonas for The Conductor [Russia]
Best Actress: Ursula Pruneda for The Dream of Lu [Mexico]
Best Screenplay: Uchida Kenji for Key of Life [Japan]
Best Cinematography: Shi Luan for Falling Flowers [China]
Best Music: Avshalom Caspi for Chrysalis [Spain]
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