21st Shanghai TV Festival Announces Lineup of Excellent Works
On the 21st of May, the 21st Shanghai TV Festival officially released the lineup of works for its 4 main awards categories. After adjusting its awards categories and streamlining its awards this year, the Shanghai TV Festival has attracted the selection and submission of nearly a thousand outstanding television programs from over 70 countries and regions. After the initial rounds of selection, a total of 10 Chinese TV series, 6 foreign TV series, 9 documentaries, 10 animated films, and 20 variety TV shows have made the cut to contend for each of this year’s “Magnolia” Award categories. There are 12 heavyweight judges who will carry out careful scrutiny of the works shortlisted for each of the 4 main award categories.
The Television Series award category has already gone through two rounds of appraisal and selection, and a total of 10 Chinese TV series and 6 foreign TV series have made the cut so far. The shortlisted Chinese TV series are of outstanding quality and diverse range – there’s everything from serious and deep dramas to relaxed and humorous comedies. The selected works reflect the developments and trends in China’s TV series industry this past year.
Among the selected works are a number of classic-themed masterpieces on modern history such as All Quiet in Peking; there’s the fresh reappearance of the big situations and small love affairs in the healthcare industry in the form of Obstetrician; there’s director Yang Yazhou’s devotion to real life and probing into the relationships between old people and their children in contemporary society in the form of Hey Daddy!; there’s Red Sorghum, that is directed by Zheng Xiaolong, and is an adaptation of Nobel laureate Mo Yan’s eponymous novel; there’s the rural epic drama The Chinese Farmers, which is yet another creation by director Zhang Xinjian and “The Richest” screenwriter Gao Mantang after their cooperation on Chuang Guangdong.
There’s the TV Biopic Deng Xiaoping at History’s Crossroads which was dedicated to the 110th birthday of Comrade Deng Xiaoping. It was made under the guidance of the CCCPC Party Literature Research Office and the CPC Sichuan Province Committee, which participated throughout its entire production in Shanghai. There’s the refreshingly “alternative” rural drama A Civic Yuppie In the Countryside. There’s Ordinary World, which is an adaptation of the late Mao Dun Literature Prize winner Lu Yao’s novel by the same name, and took Shanghai TV seven years of painstaking work to complete. And then there’s the fashionable romantic comedies Divorce Lawyers and A Servant of Two Masters which focus on the marital views of urban men and women.
A number of established actors and actresses have also been nominated for individual awards, including Chen Baoguo, Huang Lei, Wang Lei, Wu Xiubo, Zhu Yawen, Niu Li, Tong Liya, Yan Ni, Yao Chen and Zhou Xun.
That this year’s “Magnolia” Award jury member Song Jia’s work Hey Daddy! has been shortlisted is sure to arouse the suspicion of many. However, the fact is that upon learning that work she’d acted in had been submitted, in the interest of fairness Song Jia immediately announced that she was withdrawing from the competition for the Best Actress award. In the selection work yet to come, Song Jia has also expressed that she will place fairness and equality first, and that she will abstain from voting when necessary to avoid arousing suspicion. The Shanghai TV Festival Organizing Committee has stated that the inclusion of this TV series is merely a coincidence, and a result of the initial rounds of voting by 70 professional jury members.
Firstly, the jury members invited to judge the “Magnolia” Award have always been leading figures who are active in the various TV industries, so the chances that we’d encounter the situation where none of them have come out with any new works the same year are minimal. Secondly, accepting jury work is a personal decision, whereas submitting a TV series is done by a company. If we were to cancel a work’s qualification for admission just because one of the actors is a member of the jury, it would not only harm the interests of the company that submitted the work, but also wouldn’t conform to the awards system. In the wake of the booming development of China’s TV series industry, it is no surprise that “collisions” such as this will occur. However, the Organizing Committee will do what it can to carry out strictly regulation in accordance with the awards system, to ensure the authoritativeness and impartiality of the final award results.
The 6 foreign TV series that have been shortlisted come from 5 countries, namely: Germany, the Czech Republic, the UK, Austria, and Japan. Whether a simplistic sketch portraying the encounters and separation between people, or a thought-provoking portrayal of peoples’ lives in post-war Germany, each of these TV series possesses distinctive artistic features and shows profound concern for humanity. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s successful portrayal of an Anglo-Israeli businesswoman in one of these TV series, The Honourable Woman, won her the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. She had previously been nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar at the 82nd Academy Awards for her role in Crazy Heart. With the lens focused on the life of a teenage girl with Down syndrome, Be My Baby, on account of its perceptual perspective of exquisite tenderness, won the award for Best Screenplay in the New German Cinema award category at the 2014 Munich International Film Festival.
A total of 9 films have been shortlisted for this year’s Documentary award category. Considering that the former “Best Chinese Documentary” award has been cancelled, that the two Chinese-produced documentaries The Story in ER and Fighting in the Sun were nominated for “Best Documentary Series” and “Best Documentary” respectively based on their remarkable qualities, came as quite the surprise. The outstanding documentaries from other countries have shown remarkable qualities as well. The American documentary miniseries The World Wars, which documents both World Wars and the interwar era, was nominated for a number of awards in the Nonfiction Programming category at the Primetime Emmy Awards in 2014.
One of the other works that has been shortlisted is the British documentary miniseries Life and Death Row which tackles the heavy subject of the death penalty. This work won both the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award and Royal Television Society Award for Best Documentary Series in 2014. Among the contenders for “Best Documentary” is Israeli documentary The Unwelcoming, which on account of its unique narrative won the award for Best Director of a Documentary Film at the Jerusalem International Film Festival; Japanese documentary The Crash –Reinvestigating JAL Flight 123’s Tragic End, which won an award at the 2015 New York International Television and Films Awards; German documentary Komi – A Journey Across the Arctic, which records an authentic portrayal of the lives of the Komi peoples and their reindeer in the harsh Arctic Circle climate, has been very popular with the judges.
South Korean documentary Glittering Hands tells us the story of family affection in a world with sound and without sound. It has received a number of great awards, including the Ock Rang Award at the 2014 16th International Women’s Film Festival in Seoul. In addition, there’s the American documentary Art and Craft, which portrays the unique methods a prolific art forger uses to dispose of his “flawless” fakes. The story’s twists and turns are bizarre yet fascinating, and this work has received a number of awards, including a Distinctive Honor at the American Cinema Eye Honors in 2015. All of the shortlisted works are extremely competitive, and it is our belief that the Documentary award category will be quite exciting this year.
This year, 10 shortlisted animations are contending for the two main Best Animation and Best Animation Script awards. The “Best Chinese Animation” award given in previous years has been cancelled. This marks that Chinese animations will no longer receive “special treatment”, but rather stand on the same starting line as other outstanding animations from around the world for a more fair competition. The Shanghai TV Festival Organizing Committee decided to make this adjustment full of confidence in the rise of Chinese-produced animations, and hopes that it will motivate China’s animation producers to advance to an even higher level. Out of this year’s 10 shortlisted animations, 9 works are first class animations from foreign countries, making this year’s “Magnolia” Animation award category more international than ever before.
The only Chinese-produced animation that has been shortlisted is Kung Fu Bunny, a work produced by the Communication University of China, and by the concentrated efforts of JJJoy Animation Studio. This work has won the Gold Award for an Animation Series at the 11th China Animation Gold Dragon Awards in 2014, and the Golden Prize for the Best TV Animation at the 9th Tehran International Animation Festival (TIAF) in 2015. This work combines a two-dimensional character with stop motion animation scenes, and with silent animation mode added to elements of Chinese kung fu, it has broken both cultural and national boundaries. It is a very international masterpiece indeed.
A total of 20 programs have been shortlisted for the variety TV show award category, which is divided into the two main awards of Best Variety Program and Best Reality Show. Works that have been shortlisted for the reality show award category include the popular outdoor variety TV shows Where Are We Going, Dad?– Season 2, China’s version of Running Man – Season 1, and Divas Hit the Road – Season 1, as well as the hot singing shows I Am a Singer – Season 3, Sing My Song – Season 2, and The Voice of China – Season 3, the talent competition shows King of Comedy – Season 1 and Amazing Chinese – Season 1, as well the popular school reality show Grade One – Season 1 and the educational reality show The Brain– Season 2.
Works that have been shortlisted for the variety program category are brilliant and varied as well. They include: Tonight 80’s Talkshow, The Jin Xing Show, Voice, and Crazy Speaker, in which China’s popular talk-show hosts chatter away. Then there’s If You Are the One, Day Day Up, Joy Street, Who’s Still Standing?, and Chinese Characters Dictation Competition, which attempt trans-boundary fusions of entertainment with areas such as dating, culture, acting, and knowledge. Finally, there’s China’s longest-running variety show: Happy Camp. This evergreen variety TV program which has been broadcasted for the past 18 years, still managed to successfully stand out among the vast number of submitted works.
All of the awards will be ceremoniously announced at the Magnolia Awards Gala in the evening on the 12th of June, so stay tuned!