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Celebrating the best in TV, spotting up-and-coming docu film makers

THE curtain goes up Monday on the five-day Shanghai Television Festival that includes the Magnolia Awards, DocuChina selection and lots of talks and seminars. Xu Wei tunes in.

The annual Shanghai International Television Festival is a chance to view top domestic and international documentaries and TV films, get closer to stars and spot industry trends.

The curtain goes up on Monday night on the 15th annual TV celebration and closes on Friday at the Shanghai Grand Theater.

The programs include the Magnolia Awards, international forums, DocuChina film maker plan and pitching for a new animation project.

The opening ceremony will feature Chinese pop singers Sun Nan and Mao A'ming and local comedian Zhou Libo.

More than 50 entries from around the world will compete for Magnolia Awards for best TV drama, documentary and animated work. The awards, named after the city flower, are the Shanghai government's prestigious awards for television excellence.

Awards will be handed out at the closing ceremony on Friday.

The 15-member jury includes influential producers, director, actors and critics, such as Rick Feldman, president of NATPE (National Association of Television Program Executives); French documentary film maker Michel Noll; American producer Joyce Miller; Hong Kong actress Sheren Tang; and mainland TV drama director Zheng Xiaolong.

A fixture in the festival is the DocuChina project, which identifies six promising young directors with compelling proposals and funds filming.

The five-member jury for the DocuChina project includes famed film makers Wang Quan'an and Ning Ying.

This year's theme is "Survival of the Fittest," after Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. The program includes final pitching and selection, along with master classes by award-winning domestic directors Zhou Bing and Peng Xiaolian.

Six scripts will be selected from among 15 finalists. Winners will receive at least 80,000 yuan (US$11,706) each for filming. Renowned director Jia Zhangke will advise and offer technical support.

The Magnolia Forum, as usual, takes a global view of the television industry. Topics include new media, trends in TV production and trends in children's programming.

The Sino-US seminar for TV show creators will feature guest lecturers Deran Sarafian, a director of the hit series "House," and Cyrus Voris; and Ethan Reiff, creators of "Eleventh Hour." The Americans will also seek possibilities of collaborating with the Chinese peers. Renowned Chinese actor and producer Zhang Guoli and film maker Zheng Xiaolong will attend.

The second Shanghai University Student Television Festival will open on Tuesday, featuring a range of programs developed by local students. Young people can also select their favorite Chinese TV programs of last year and chat with the production teams.

Twenty-six shows are in the running, including China Central Television's celebrity interview program "Art Life" and Shanghai Documentary Channel's feature program "Archives."

A digital video contest will be held, winners chosen by experts and Netizens; prizes will be awarded on Thursday. The lives and education of migrant workers and their children is expected to be one of the topics.

"With the emergence of many new media forms, we hope to bring young people back to television," says Teng Junjie, an official with the organizing committee of the 15th Shanghai Television Festival. "They can learn more bout the industry, its new opportunities and challenges."

Shanghai's Art Channel will live broadcast the opening and closing ceremonies at 7:40pm.


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