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April 23, 2010

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Films from Alps to Internet

MOVIE lovers can enjoy the edgy winners of's short video contest as well as a big-screen documentary about conquering the Alps' most treacherous peak. Xu Wei reports.

The documentary film "The Alps" tells the story of a young American mountaineer who conquered the North Face of the Eiger, considered Europe's most dangerous climb - and one that claimed his father's life.

The 40-minute film by Stephen Judson is being shown in the IMAX Dome Theater of the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum through October 3.

When John Harlin III was only nine years old, his father John Harlin II died while attempting the North Face of the Eiger in Switzerland in 1966. Thirty-nine years later, in 2005, Harlin confronted his demons and attempted the same climb.

"For a long time I grew up in the shadow of my father's tragedy. But after many years' fear I finally climbed the mountain, where I found a closer connection with my father," Harlin says at the premiere of the film in Shanghai.

The film's shooting was supported by the Switzerland Tourism Agency and features magnificent scenery.

During the World Expo, the Switzerland Pavilion will screen a seven-minute condensed version of the film. The pavilion features an indoor cable ride through Switzerland, a photo exhibition and a tourism-themed night.

Viewers at the Science and Technology Museum can win free Expo tickets in the monthly lucky draw.

The film also explains the formation and geology of the Alps and why the North Face of the Eiger is so treacherous.

Harlin says the film not only documents the greatest moment in his life, but also emphasizes the importance of family, love and respect for nature.

His father impressed these values on young Harlin and he, in turn, has passed them on to his young daughter.

Fans of original online videos can view the winners of the 2010 Tudou Video Festival at It has been dubbed "China's (online) Sundance Festival" that recognizes originality.

Top honors at the awards ceremony last Saturday went to Liang Zhiping's "War of Internet Addiction," a bold statement from the online gaming community about the government crackdown on an Internet game.

Online flicks

Golden Tudou winner Liang, known as "Sexy Corn," is a network engineer who made the film about "World of Warcraft" gamers who were frustrated that a new version was banned in China.

"I just wanted to do it for 'World of Warcraft' gamers," says Sexy Corn. "I expressed my personal opinion about the Chinese Internet and Chinese society and probably a lot of people thought I was right."

For now making movies is a hobby, he says.

Other winners: "Water Brain" (best short film), "My Name is MT" (most popular film), "ABCD Said" (best musical film) and "Adventure of Li Xianji" (best animation).

"Compared with when I graduated seven years ago, young people nowadays enjoy a more open, audience-driven, low-cost channel to show what they have via Internet video sites," says Sun Haipeng, a senior Tudou video blogger.

He created a popular kung fu series "Baoqiang," which stars xiaolongbao (little steamed buns) as its hero.

The most promising film maker in the festival will receive a scholarship to the prestigious French Film Institute.

The lucky one will be announced later.

Wang Wei, CEO of, says the site is seeking good film projects for investment.

"We look into the tastes and motifs of our viewers online, and often find they tend to be attracted to edgy, differentiated and provocative stuff, stronger than what you usually see on other traditional media in China," Wang says.

Finalists in the festival have big market potential if they are made into commercial films, he says.

"It Seems To Rain" is a poetic and implicitly gay relationship story. "Lost in Paradise" is a black-humored drama about an intrigue set in motion by a small town van driver. "Adventure of Li Xianji" is a fairly deep adult animation filled with drugs-dealing, violence and a lost soul's awakening.

Over the past five years, Chinese Netizens have witnessed the rise of young video directors emerging from the Internet platform, gaining recognition and tapping into commercial opportunities, which once were dominated by sizable TV or movie production companies. Grassroots online video culture is seen as a way to inspire and invigorate Chinese cinema.


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