Shanghai Film Festival Unveils 2023 Competition Selection (Without US Films)

Shanghai Film Festival Unveils 2023 Competition Selection (Without US Films)

The Shanghai International Film Festival unveiled the competition selection for its 25th anniversary edition on Monday, with a lineup packed with local Chinese titles, as well as a substantial inclusion of Iran and Japan. Notably, however, the festival organizers have chosen not to include a single film from the US film industry in their 2023 competition lineup.

The 2023 Shanghai Film Festival, scheduled for June 9-18, will be the first version of the event that is easily accessible to the global film industry since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020. Last year, the festival was canceled in the wake of the month-long COVID-19 lockdown and the government’s strict travel restrictions at the time. The festival had been held for the previous two years, but became an almost entirely domestic Chinese affair, as flights in and out of China were hard to get at the time (and all travelers had to endure lengthy and expensive hotel quarantines to get entry to the country).

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This year, organizers in Shanghai hope to win the world back for China by extending Beijing’s current “open for business” policy to the cultural sphere. But deteriorating diplomatic ties between Washington and Beijing — as well as lower earnings for US films in China — could present headwinds to substantial US industry participation, insiders say.

The Shanghai Film Festival is widely regarded as China’s most accomplished and artistically respected film event. But its competition lineups tend to be a bit eccentric for a festival of its stature, as the event, like all official cultural activities in China, is subject to prevailing local political priorities as much as the artistic will of the programmers. For the 2023 edition, organizers said they had received nearly 8,800 films to choose from, spanning over 128 countries and regions. Korea’s high-flying film industry is another notable absence across the competition lineup, however, thanks to a de facto ban on Korean entertainment in China stemming from old geopolitical grievances.

Shanghai screening lineups for other sections of the festival, which tend to include more audience-pleasing retrospectives of Hollywood and international commercial films, are expected in the coming days, along with the composition of the 2023 competition jury.

Feature film competition

“All Ears” Dir. Liu Jiayin (China)
“Dust to dust” dir. Jonathan Li (China)
“Happy Autumn, Mom” ​​dir. CHEN Shizhong (China)
“Joseph’s Son” Directed by Haobam Paban Kumar (India)
“Turn On” Dir. Connor O’Hara (UK)
“Mom, is that you?!” Director Yoji Yamada (Japan)
“Women” Dir. Marta Lallana (Spain)
“Nina” directed by Oksana Bychkova (Russia-Georgia)
“The annoyed” dir. Mehdi Fard Ghaderi (Iran)
“La Cappella” Dir. Dominique Deruddere (Belgium)
“The first day of my life” dir. Paolo Genovese (Italy)
“Yoko” Directed by Kazuyoshi Kumakiri (Japan)

New Asian talent

“1.5 horsepower” dir. Rasool Kahani (Iran)
“Cause of death: unknown” dir. Ali Zarnegar (Iran)
“Day Dreaming” Directed by WANG Zichuan (China)
“Away with the boat” dir. CHEN Xiaoyu (China)
“In broad daylight” dir. Lawrence Kan (Hong Kong)
“Love, my way” dir. Liu Bing (China)
“May” Dir. LU Dong (China)
“People who talk to stuffed animals are nice” dir. Yurina Kaneko (Japan)
“Qash” directed by Aisultan Seit (Kazakhstan)
“Sunday” reg. Shakir Kholikov (Uzbekistan)
“The signal” dir. Lee Phongsavanh (Laos)
“Time still turns the pages” dir. Nick Cheuk (Hong Kong)

Animated feature films

“The Dolphin Boy” dir. Mohammad Kheirandish (Iran-Türkiye)
“Four Souls of Coyote” dir. Aaron Gauder (Hungary)
“Gonta: The story of the dog with two names in the Fukushima disaster” dir. Akio Nishizawa (Japan)
“Master Zhong” Directed by WANG Yuxi-HUANG Shanchuan (China)
“Inseparable” dir. Jérémie Degruson (Belgium-France-Spain)


“Anxious in Beirut” dir. Zakaria Jaber (Jordan-Lebanon-Qatar-Spain)
“A leap of faith” dir. YANG Lina (China)
“Moses’ Spies” Dir. Itzik Lerner (Israel)
“La Carovana” Dir. Núria Clavero-Aitor Palacios (Spain-Mexico)
“The Passion of Mahmoud” dir. Davoud Abdolmaleki (Iran).