BEIJING (AP) — The fifth Beijing International Festival opened Thursday in China's capital city, where the local government and national film authorities are hoping to raise the event's profile by hiring a veteran European festival chief.
The festival, which continues through April 23, is being advised by Marco Mueller, a Swiss-Italian who has produced several films including the Oscar-winning 2001 Bosnian film "No Man's Land."
Luc Besson leads the festival jury and Arnold Schwarzenegger is scheduled to speak.
Fifteen films will compete for the 10 Temple of Heaven Awards, including best feature film and best director. They include South Korean entry "The Whistleblower," U.S. movie "Experimenter," Indian film "Fig Fruit and the Wasps," and two Chinese films, "Wolf Totem" and "The Taking of Tiger Mountain."
All the non-Chinese nominated films will have their international premieres at the eight-day festival, as opposed to just their Asian premiere or China premiere, as in years past.
Other films being screened include many that haven't played in mainland theaters, including this year's Oscar winners "Birdman" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel."
Mueller told the AP that China needs more strong producers.
"I really think that, so that Chinese films would be able to move into the next phase, what would be necessary is the presence of strong producers with vision," he said.
The festival is different from the grassroots Beijing Independent Film Festival, which showcases films that aren't approved for release in China and was blocked from taking place last year.