11 Chinese Movies to Watch at the Shanghai Film Festival

Returning from a pandemic-era hiatus, this year’s Shanghai International Film Festival features plenty of domestically-produced work

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6:02 AM HKT, Thu June 8, 2023 2 mins read

The 25th edition of the Shanghai International Film Festival, China’s most prestigious film gathering, is set to screen more than 400 films across 41 venues from June 9 to 18. The festival is back after being cancelled last year amidst pandemic restrictions, and the lineup features no shortage of domestic titles.

Founded in 1993, SIFF is the only film festival in China recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations, drawing thousands of attendees each year with screenings, markets, forums, and awards.

Out of 8,800 submissions from 128 countries and regions, selected films will compete for the festival’s Golden Goblet Award across five categories: Main Competition, Asian New Talent, Documentary Film, Animated Film, and Short Film.

Online ticket sales started on June 2, with 425 screenings selling out within the first hour. The competition selection predominantly features local Chinese films, but there’s also representation from Japan, Iran, and others. Notably, there are no U.S. titles in the competition.

Here’s a look at the 11 Chinese films competing for the prestigious award.

Feature Film Main Competition

Good Autumn, Mommy 寻她

shanghai international film festival

Poster via IMDb

The Chen family lives in a serene, southern village of sugarcane farmers, where they eagerly await the arrival of a new baby. When an unexpected tragedy strikes, Chen Fengdi, played by award-winning actress Shu Qi, embarks on a journey to seek her lost family members, and discover herself.

All Ears 不虚此行

All Ears follows the journey of Wen Shan, portrayed by Hu Ge, who finds himself changing paths from a screenwriter into a eulogist. He finds peace in offering comfort, while working to unravel and celebrate the lives of others

Dust To Dust 第八个嫌疑人

Based on a real crime case, this film stars comedian Da Peng and Zhang Songwen, the latter being best known for his performance in this year’s hit TV drama, The Knockout.

In 1995, an armed robbery in Guangdong shocked the nation. A group of five thieves ambushed a bank cash transport vehicle, stealing 15 million and leaving three cash couriers dead in their wake. The shocking incident rattled the nation, and police quickly apprehended three culprits. However, the two true masterminds behind the crime disappeared without a trace until two decades later.

Asian New Talent

Love, My Way 喜欢高兴爱

shanghai international film festival

Not much information has been revealed about Love, My Way, but it’s been described as a woman’s journey to find love.

May 梅的白天和黑夜

shanghai international film festival

Another story of a woman seeking love, May has a bit of a twist: the main character is in her 70s, and has experienced two failed marriages. She spends her days and nights exploring the sprawling city of Shanghai in search of a dance partner with whom to share the rest of her life. This daily quest has evolved into an enchanting and poetic ritual, not just for her, but also for other old residents in the city. Part narrative film and part documentary, May is in the Shanghainese dialect.

Day Dreaming 漫漫长日

shanghai international film festival

This enigmatic fantasy comedy tells the story of a third-grade troublemaker whose reality takes a magical turn.

Gone With The Boat 乘船而去

shanghai international film festival

Mrs. Zhou has been living alone in a rural village by the canal, when she is abruptly diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her two children return home to take care of her but have different opinions when it comes to her treatment. As her death looms, Zhou seeks a place of spiritual peace, while her children uncover her hidden secrets.

In Broad Daylight 白日之下

Based on true events, In Broad Daylight zeroes in on disturbing and unseen realities of caretaker abuse. An investigative newsroom team sets out to discover the truth behind an alleged case of abuse at a home for disabled people.

Time Still Turns The Pages 年少日记

When high school teacher Mr. Zheng finds a suicide note without a signature, it brings back painful, childhood memories of abuse. Struggling with his wife’s departure and his father’s declining health, Zheng feels compelled to identify the student who wrote the note, hoping to prevent a tragedy.


Leap Of Faith 少女与马

shanghai international film festival

This 120-minute film follows a year in the lives of six young women competing in equestrian events, and their relationships with their equine companions. It’s produced by an all-star team, including documentary filmmaker Liang Yang, Golden Horse Award-winning videographer Wang Shiqing, and editor Liao Qingsong.

Animated Film

Master Zhong 钟馗

shanghai international film festival

Chinese animated feature films often draw inspiration from Chinese traditional culture (think Ne Zha). Master Zhong revolves around the Taoist deity Zhong Kui, traditionally depicted as a vanquisher of ghosts and evil beings.

For more about the wide world of Chinese film, check out our list of 100 Chinese Movies to Watch

All images via SIFF unless stated otherwise

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