Strong Asian flavour at Shanghai film fest

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The 18th Shanghai International Film Festival opened last Saturday with a strong Asian flavour in movie selections and a bevy of Chinese stars striding down the red carpet.

The festival, founded in 1993, is featuring more than 380 movies from nearly 50 countries, according to organisers.

But China dominates with 80 films, almost double the number by closest competitor the United States.

"The Shanghai International Film Festival has always focused on films outside the Hollywood film system," Fu Wenxia, managing director of organiser Shanghai International Film and TV Festivals Co, said.

On the red carpet, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing stood next to her co-stars Leon Lai and Wu Chun. She plays Tang dynasty concubine Yang Guifei in the romance Lady Of The Dynasty, which has Cheng Shiqing as director, along with Zhang Yimou and Tian Zhuangzhuang.

Action star Jackie Chan slapped hands with journalists while former boxer Mike Tyson, who appears in gongfu film Ip Man 3, shouted "Hello" in Chinese and posed with co-star Donnie Yen.

Hong Kong star Aaron Kwok, who stars in Chen Kaige's Monk Comes Down The Mountain, carried a child dressed as a Taoist monk in his arms.

Also from Hong Kong were actor Simon Yam and director Derek Yee, whose film about movie extras in Zhejiang's Hengdian movie studio, titled I Am Somebody, opened the festival. Others included Korean actor Song Seung Heon, Thailand's Tony Jaa and Taiwan's Eddie Peng.

From Hollywood came Dreamworks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg and Gone Girl star Rosamund Pike.

The Shanghai festival has earned a reputation for catering to movie fans while a similar event in Beijing which started only in 2011 tends to attract bigger entertainment names and government officials. But commercial hub Shanghai does not aim to compete with political centre Beijing to be China's film capital, Fu said.

Shanghai is offering some selections in line with the country's political aims, including movies under the theme On The Silk Road as China pushes to build on the ancient trade routes on land and sea.

A group of films from the BRICS countries comes as China urges greater political and economy unity between Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa.

The festival will commemorate the end of World War II, or as described by the official programme, "The Chinese People's 70th Anniversary of the Victory of the Anti-Japanese War".

Hollywood will be represented, including all six Star Wars films and more recent blockbusters such as American Sniper about United States Navy Seal Chris Kyle and Gone Girl, based on the novel of the same name.

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