Stars Shine Bright at the First Beijing International Film Festival

China's film industry will be strutting its stuff on the red carpet as the first Beijing International Film Festival gets rolling at Beijing's National Center for the Performing Arts. The star-studded six-day event began on April 23rd, 2011, and features “image ambassadors” Jackie Chan and Zhang Ziyi (above).

The BJIFF offers Chinese filmmakers, actors and industry professionals a chance to seize the spotlight and show their stuff on the international stage. The red carpet ceremony included appearances by a half-dozen presidents of various international film festivals, as the BJIFF sought to associate itself with other “-IFF” events.

The red carpet ceremony showcased China's up & coming film industry while adding a dash of international flavor. The guest list was heavy on well-known film directors such as John Woo, Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”), Chinese directors Peter Chan and Feng Xiaogang, and Rob Minkoff (“The Lion King”).

The 48-year-old Minkoff (left) is directing "Chinese Odyssey", currently in production with a release date sometime in 2012, but the director boasts a Chinese connection that goes beyond his work: he's been married to Chinese actress Crystal Kung (also left) since September of 2007.

The Beijing International Film Festival enjoys the support of China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) and the Beijing Municipal Government. These governmental authorities hope that the festival will provide a vehicle to “take back” the channeling of Chinese culture from Hollywood: “Kung Fu Panda” and “Mulan” being prime examples.

More than 500 movies were produced last year in China and total box office revenues reached 10 billion yuan (about $). “Chinese culture should be better known,” commented Zhang Huijun, president of the China Film Academy, “and so should the Chinese movie market.” The establishment of the BJIFF as an annual event is a giant step towards achieving those goals. (via Xinhua and ChineseFilms)