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1st MIFF Ends An interview with Director Margaret Sha, Chairman of MIFF

1st MIFF Ends

An interview with Director Margaret Sha, Chairman of MIFF

Entertainment Column,, Sept. 1, 2019 13:30

The 1st MIFF Ends

Days ago, the impassioned awarding ceremony and GALA DINNER drew an end to the 1st MIFF-MIFF 2019. The 1st MIFF comprised a week-long film showing, and a three-day party & film summit of filmmakers from all over the world.

From Aug. 18 on, AMCRio Cinema in Gettysburg, Montgomery County, Maryland, Washington, D.C. become livened up, day by day. MIFF started on this day. 25 films selected by the MIFF panel out of nearly 1800 competition films of filmmakers all over the world were played. Rare are opportunities to watch collectively high-quality films of international premier filmmakers at Washington, D.C. An international feast like this comprised of high-quality films, and parties and summits of international filmmakers was unprecedented at Montgomery. The Governor of the Maryland, the Monarch of Montgomery County, the Mayor of Gettysburg, and the Maryland Film Office all spoke highly of and provided support for this high-grade international art event. After learning that this MIFF was co-organized by two Chinese American women, the U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine chao has specially written a congratulatory letter to MIFF.

An interview was made with director Sha Bihong (Margaret Sha), chairman of this MIFF. Director Margaret Sha is a well-known film director, playwright, writer and producer in China. She has been the moderator of a talking column Narration of CCTV, a premier program in China. She has written and directed many films, some of which have been awarded international prizes and Chinese TV Government Award. She has published a collection of poems and many novels. Besides, she has directed dramas and scene plays, acted as judge of the Exhibition on China Micro-Film in Ten Years, judge of North America Chinese Directors Short Film Tour, and other film festivals. She focused on creation in the film industry and film teaching in recent few years. When talking about the purpose of this festival, Margaret Sha replied: “we have a clear-cut purpose, which is to advocate connection between film and art, and fight against over-commercialization of films”.

When being asked why should she agree to act as chairman of this MIFF as she has a busy schedule, Margaret Sha mentioned the name of another female-Chinese American Karina Hou, who acted as joint chairman for this MIFF together with Margaret Sha. Mrs. Hou is an educator, artist, and social activist. She enjoys a good reputation and is quite influential locally. Three years ago, Margaret Sha met across Karina Hou, and they became close friends because of joint affection for art. Margaret Sha received great support around Washington, D.C. in February this year, days before she directed films at Washington, D.C. and Maryland. Also, she received warm help from many Chinese Americans, in particular, Karina Hou, who showed full support, and even lent her house free of charge to the dramatic team. Even more, she took charge of the board and lodging of the team, and selecting film locations. During the shooting period, Karina Hou talked about her love for films, and sighed with emotion that many art films and films of independent filmmakers can’t find their places at cinemas and were hard to get funding. She showed intentions to do her share to improve such situation. Margaret Sha felt deeply agreed with Karina in this regard. As a director, playwright and producer working always in the frontline of the film industry, she understands deeply those filmmakers who make art films and independent films, especially those young ones who are talented, capable, enthusiastic, and hard-working, but lack opportunity and funding. They two chimed in easily and decided to make an international film festival, which will serve a platform for the global art films and independent filmmakers, through which excellent filmmakers all over the world will gather together, and through which investors, distributors and filmmakers can have close dialogues.

The two hit it off and took actions right away after they made up their minds. Thus, a magnificent, well-designed, warm international festival film opened after intensive preparations. Red carpet, forums, media meetings, coffee breaks, and drinking parties are all best designed occasions for filmmakers to exchange ideas about film. All discussion panels are lively but careful. At the end of each discussion panel, all participants want to have more talks and discussions. Those filmmakers felt that it is hard to say goodbye to such an encouraging creation atmosphere. Judges and guests of this film festivals come from all over the world, ranging from Oscar winners from France, distribution VIPs from India, directors from Canada, Mexico, and the Netherlands, even to filmmakers from Hollywood and New York.

The most difficult link of this festival is awarding, in the opinion of Margaret Sha. Of the films registered for competition on this festival, many are new works of Oscar and Emmy winners. But, films of young people can not be underestimated, either. It’s really hard to choose between them. Filled with love and appreciation, soon the festival welcomed its awarding moment. Time Out of a Finland director won the best film award. It wrapped up the best actor award, the best supporting actress award, and the best playwright award. This year's best director award was taken away by Canadian director Renee Reaudea and the best photography award was taken by the Free Slave from Turkey. Of a variety of films from different countries, films by Chinese are not drowned out. Take short films selected for competition, Last Chance won the best film award. The best director award of this unit was taken away by director Wei Yi. The best photography award of this unit was taken away by Zhang Chenxiao. The best actor /actress award were taken away by Hu Hong and French Chinese director Zhang Yu [Microblog] Bai, respectively. Li Kai [Microblog] Di won the best newcomer award.

It is worth mentioning that, the competition film "Lost Rainbow - Return of An Ancient Pendant" from China won the best producer award and the best actress nomination. A group of documentaries Lonely Glaciers /Guardians of the Gibbons /A Wetland Legend from 4K channel of CCTV won the best documentary prize (short films). The film Our Forty Years also received good remarks and was shortlisted for play.

On this MIFF the organizing committee special honor awards were given to the opening film Lihaaf and the closing film Darklight. In addition, Study Abroad, a film reflecting study and living of the new generation of overseas Chinese students won the special contribution award of the organizing committee.

MIFF is an international feast, which draws extensive good remarks from guests for its high quality and specification. Filmmakers have made an appointment to meet again when they say goodbye to each other: see you next year!

When being asked about plan for the next year, Margaret Sha confirmed that she will run MIFF continuously though she is focused on creation at present. It is not a cause of one person, but one for all. Many people and agencies have contributed time and energy to MIFF. Preparations for MIFF next year start already. Some powerful agencies have confirmed to offer more support. She believes that MIFF will welcome a better event next year!

(Article/ Alexis. T)

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