Reel China: Director John Woo to lead Beijing film festival jury

John Woo will helm the jury at the Beijing International Film Festival.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

BEIJING -- Director-producer John Woo will head up the jury at the fourth annual Beijing International Film Festival, which kicks off April 16, organizers said.

Woo, 67, is the Hong Kong helmer of films including “Mission: Impossible II,” “A Better Tomorrow,” “Red Cliff” and “Face/Off.”

The weeklong festival will hold screenings at some 30 theaters throughout China’s capital. The international jury will hand out the Tiantan Awards in 10 categories, including best feature, director, actor, actress, cinematography and screenplay.



Woo has several major projects of his own in the works. “The Crossing” is a $40-million feature set during the 1949 Communist revolution and starring, among others, Zhang Ziyi. The plot centers on three couples from the mainland who board an ill-fated ship for Taiwan; the movie is already being called the Chinese “Titanic.”

At last year’s Beijing Film Festival, Woo announced his plans for directing “Flying Tigers,” based on the true story of an American who trained Chinese pilots to fly fighter planes against Japanese invaders. The producers said Woo would make a two-part feature film as well as a six-hour TV miniseries for Chinese audiences.

Woo’s “Red Cliff” in 2008 was released as two-part movie in China but a single film in the United States.

‘Robocop’ tops box office amid some controversy

In its second week in release in mainland China, “Robocop” edged out “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug” to claim the top spot at the box office, film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway said Tuesday.

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“Robocop” collected $21.5 million in the week ending Sunday, bringing its total to $42 million. At this rate, Jose Padillha’s remake may yield more in China than it has in the U.S. and Canada, where it has made $54 million since its mid-February release, according to

“Robocop” was presented in China -- somewhat controversially -- in 3D as well as in a large-screen format known as China Film Giant Screen. IMAX has filed suit against a key employee of China Film Giant Screen, claiming he stole trade secrets.

Jackie Chan, Feng Xiaogang decry censorship

Long speeches praising leaders’ annual “work reports” and stultifying press conferences are the mainstays of China’s annual political gatherings known as the “two meetings”: the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

But on the sidelines of the meetings last week, actor Jackie Chan and director Feng Xiaogang fired off some heated words about film censorship, urging government officials to take a lighter approach to monitoring content.

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During a meeting of “art experts” that was supposed to be a staid gathering on a government work report, Chan -- a Hong Kong delegate to the CPPCC -- spoke out, saying that if all the “sharp edges and corners” are cut from movies, box office will suffer accordingly.

“I have a couple of director friends [who went] bankrupt because of poor box office results,” said Chan.

While China may, within a matter of years, surpass the U.S. world’s biggest film market, home-grown films will be trumped by Hollywood imports if the censorship system does not change, he added.

“I know there’s a risk to saying this, but I do not care now, because it seems normal that I speak inappropriately,” Chan said.

Feng, who is among China’s most famous directors and is a frequent critic of censors, also lashed out.

“Don’t make directors tremble with fear every day like [they are] walking on thin ice,” Feng said at the gathering. “Is the patriotism, political judgment and artistic taste of the censors better than ours, the directors?” added the director of films including “Assembly,” “Aftershock,” “1942" and, most recently, “Personal Tailor.”

Twitter: @JulieMakLAT