Jia Zhangke to lead Toronto film festival’s inaugural jury

Jia Zhangke

Chinese film director Jia Zhangke will head the inaugural jury at the upcoming 40th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), organizers of the event announced Wednesday.

The three-person international jury, known as Platform, is a new program opened this year to champion film directors’ works from around the world. In addition to Jia, the jury also includes Claire Denis of France and Agnieszka Holland of Poland. A prize of 25,000 Canadian dollars (about 20,000 U.S. dollars) will be given to the best film in the section at the Sept. 20 awards ceremony.

“We have a long history with Zhang-ke, Claire and Agnieszka. They are master filmmakers with unique voices that we have championed throughout the years, both at the Festival and in our year-round programming,” said TIFF Director and CEO Piers Handling. “We are honored to welcome them back to Toronto on our 40th anniversary as we celebrate our renewed commitment to artistically ambitious filmmaking with Platform.”

“Platform is our new home for original, personal filmmaking and this is our dream jury,” said Cameron Bailey, artistic director of the film festival. “We are thankful to these visionary filmmakers for making the time to join us this September. We can’t wait for the conversations they’ll have about the Platform films.”

Inspired by Jia Zhangke’s groundbreaking film in 2000, the Platform will shine the spotlight on up to 12 films of high artistic merit that demonstrate a strong directorial vision. The film lineup will be announced in the coming weeks, according to the organizers.

Jia was born in Fenyang, north China’s Shanxi Province, and studied at the Beijing Film Academy. He made his directorial debut with the feature Xiao Wu (1997). His subsequent films have all been screened at Toronto, including the documentaries Dong (2006), Wuyong (2007), and I Wish I Knew (2010), and the features Platform (2000), Unknown Pleasures (2002), The World (2004), Still Life ( 2006), and A Touch of Sin (2013), which won the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes, France. Mountains May Depart (2015) is his latest film.

Jia’s films have been seen as a reflection of a changing China. TIFF Cinematheque presented in 2005 a retrospective of Jia’s work titled Unknown Pleasures: The Films of Jia Zhang-ke. He was honored the “directors of the decade” award by the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010.

Founded in 1976, the TIFF is now one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, and is considered a launch pad for many studios to begin “Oscar-buzz” for their films.

Source article: http://www.china.org.cn/arts/2015-07/16/content_36072853.htm