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March 31, 2011

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Film contest honors budding directors

WITH new possibilities provided by affordable digital cameras and even cell phones, it's no longer a dream to shoot your own film. And for young people, it's exact the way to share and express their feelings and stories through video or film.

Considered by some as the "Chinese equivalent of the Sundance Film Festival," the Tudou Video Festival has recognized and honored a large number of talented grassroots Internet film makers since 2008.

Their works, ranging from four to 20 minutes long, reflect the hottest social issues and trends today, and the thoughts and desires of China's young generation.

This year the 4th Tudou festival, themed "Fearless," invites netizens to vote online and select a shortlist of 200 finalists from the unprecedented 9,926 entries.

In May, the finalists will vie for the Golden Tudou Prize and other awards in best short film, best director, best actor, best production team and most creative work categories. Talented film makers will also receive funding, training and technical aids.

The submitted videos, both animation and short drama, are mostly produced by student film makers and white-collar workers with little film-making experience.

According to Zhou Yi, art director of, this year's festival has witnessed a 82.5 percent increase of original entries compared with last year.

"The original online video culture continues to boom," Zhou says. "More and more domestic works by young talents display nice visuals, good cinematography and creative story ideas."

Professor Liu Haibo, a film and TV expert from Shanghai University, says that popular Chinese video-sharing websites are having a growing impact on the leisure life of young people.

"With the accessibility of video-shooting facilities and a wider Internet platform for release, film making is no longer a dream too far for an ordinary netizen without a professional film-making background," Professor Liu says. "The passion, imagination and creativity of grassroots video directors are expected to invigorate Chinese cinema."

"The Shoes," a 3D animated video, is among the candidates and has been acclaimed for its exquisite scenes. Set to the backdrop of an Italian town during World War II, the heartwarming animation depicts the cruelty of war and the damage suffered by ordinary people from the perspective of a six-year-old child.

"It took my team from the Magic Animation Studio more than one year to produce this video," says Mao Qichao, the video's director. "All I hope to address in the work is that we want peace and happiness for the world."

"I Am Brave" is another touching story of life and death. With their optimism and strong faith in life, it depicts how a group of children suffering incurable diseases try their best to fight against the archangel of death.

The festival also sees a batch of avant-garde and dark-humored productions. The story of "Xiao Ming's Weekend" is told totally through a series of funny dialogues on a cell phone.

Xiao Ming, an ordinary white-collar worker living in a pressured metropolis, has to tell many small lies every day to spare others' (his boss, his client and his girlfriend) feelings or make more benefits for himself. The inter-personal relationship in modern society appears to be increasingly more fragile and dishonest.

Some other works revolve around parental love, teen problems, environmental protection, as well as young adults' loss, confusion and difficulties with life and love today.

For the finals, a jury panel will be made up of veteran independent film makers and critics such as Hong Kong director Ping Ho-cheung, mainland film maker Ning Hao and media critic Yuan Yue.

Check for more details of 2011 Tudou Video Festival. Netizens can also vote for their favorite works; 200 entries will be selected for the finals.


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