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'Slumdog' opens as Boyle says he'll helm Shanghai film fest

DANNY Boyle will be the jury president for this year's Shanghai International Film Festival, the Oscar-winning director confirmed at the Chinese mainland premiere of "Slumdog Millionaire" in Beijing yesterday.

"It's fantastic to be in a film festival," Boyle said, adding that the Shanghai event will be his first jury assignment.

"You should always approach these films with a completely open mind. And that's what I'll be doing," he said, without specifying his criteria for choosing a winning film.

He said his first film, "Shallow Grave," was shown at the Cannes Film Festival and he was moved by the positive response of the audience, which knew nothing about the film before watching it.

"Slumdog," Boyle's latest hit, which took eight Oscars at this year's Academy Awards, will be shown in cinemas across the Chinese mainland starting today.

The film follows 18-year-old orphan Jamal who pursues his childhood love while rising from a battered street kid in Mumbai to become the biggest winner on a popular TV quiz show.

Weng Li, spokesman for the film's distributor, China Film Group, said yesterday he was confident that, in spite of rampant pirated DVDs and online downloads, Chinese audiences will significantly add to the movie's already impressive global box office earnings of at least US$200 million.

Boyle also told reporters yesterday that he might consider making a film in China.

"Development and changes ... When you have a city that is full of people and stories like Mumbai, Beijing or Shanghai, it's just so much excitement and potential for a filmmaker. It's like a dream come true," he said.

China might be the last stop for a six-month world tour of the film, and Boyle hoped that its release here will be "epic."

"'Slumdog Millionaire' is a perfect example of the cultural exchange between the Eastern and Western worlds ... and Danny Boyle will surely bring new prospects to the Shanghai International Film Festival," said Tang Lijun, the event's general manager.

This year's Shanghai film fest is scheduled to run from June 13 to 21.

More than 600 feature films and 200 short films have already been submitted to the festival committee, Tang said.

When asked to give advice to Chinese filmmakers on how to win awards, Boyle said, "Don't try... You have no control over that."

"Make the story you want to make ... with compassion."


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