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August 4, 2020

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Film festival ends with a positive sign of recovery

The Shanghai International Film Festival wrapped up on Sunday, sending a positive signal that the world’s second-largest film market is making a steady recovery.

With much of the world in the grip of COVID-19, the 23rd SIFF was something of a rarity among category-A film festivals, as most foreign festivals were postponed or shifted their main events online.

The SIFF was shorn of the star-studded red carpet and awards ceremony, with nominees for its two major awards announced but with no winners. But the nine-day event still screened 320 Chinese and foreign movies, drawing more than 147,500 viewers into local cinemas.

The film pageant has been hailed for spearheading the revival of the film market after the country lifted a months-long closure of cinemas amid the waning epidemic. China allowed cinemas in low-risk areas to reopen starting on July 20.

That day’s box office takings stood at a paltry 3.5 million yuan (US$503,000) amid stringent anti-virus measures in cinemas, ticket sale caps and a limited choice of new films.

The festival also served as a market warm-up. In Shanghai, 271 movie theaters, or 70 percent of the total, have reopened, compared with 148 at the start of the event. A total of 1,146 screenings for SIFF movies were held, with over half of the viewers aged below 30, indicating a comeback of an age group with strong ticket-purchase power.


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