It’s 6:30AM here in Shanghai. I went to bed at 2:00AM. I’d like to sleep another few hours but I’m too amped. The China premiere of SHANGHAI CALLING at the Shanghai International Film Festival last night was bananas. For weeks Producer JANET YANG and I have been wondering how this very important screening would go. Good news: We’re a hit in Shanghai!
The screening started at 6:30PM, after a long day of interviews for the cast and crew. Hundreds of people showed up, which caught the festival organizers by surprise — the screening prior to ours only sold 50 tickets. Even after the movie had begun, festival guests and badge holders kept arriving, trying to get in. Janet and I had already given up our seats to accommodate some VIPs. We apologized and told the guests that there were no more seats. They went in anyway and stood or sat in the aisles for the entire movie!
When the credits rolled we were greeted with applause — which doesn’t usually happen in China. About 90% of the audience stuck around for the Q&A and to take photos with DANIEL HENNEY, ELIZA COUPE, and ZHU ZHU, who were in attendance. There were a few light questions from the audience, mostly asking Daniel Henney about his experience shooting in China.
Then SHE stood up.
She was a Shanghai woman in her 40s, and she shouted above the moderators, who tried to pass her a microphone. (She didn’t need one.)
“I was born in Shanghai! I’ve lived in Shanghai all my life! Every movie I’ve ever seen about Shanghai is an ugly stereotype of my city!” Janet and I traded a nervous glance — this is the kind of angry shouting that you hear in China when somebody is about to protest something. The entire audience seemed on edge. Even Daniel and Eliza (who couldn’t understand what she was saying) sensed that something bad was coming.
“I’ve never liked any movie that has taken place in Shanghai… until this one!” The audience applauded, out of agreement and relief. The Q&A moderators thanked her and tried to move on, but she kept going: “I’ve watched ten movies at this festival so far, and this is the first good one I’ve seen! This movie is in competition for the CCTV 6 Media Award, and it had better win!”
We gave her a t-shirt.
From the moment we started trying to make this movie, our partners in China were concerned about whether or not this “American-style” movie could succeed with a Chinese audience. So the fact that the screening (which was not well-publicized, for reasons I won’t get into here) was so well-attended and well-received was a huge victory.
I don’t know if we have video of this lady, but if it surfaces we’ll post it. We’ll also post photos as soon as we have them. (Being away from home we don’t have all of our technical resources at our disposal right now.)
OK, time to get out of the hotel and to a day of meetings. Please keep spreading the word about SHANGHAI CALLING and remember to enter our Expat Stories Contest!
Tags: china, daniel henney, eliza coupe, janet yang, premiere, shanghai, shanghai international film festival, SIFF