I thought we were merely going to the closing party at the Beijaio Shunde Industrial Design Park, but it turned out to be yet another award ceremony with even more pomp than the night before. Apparently Shunde is the wealthiest region in China and a big supporter of GZDOC. So in between a wild masked man racing about, some talented children performing Cantonese opera, an older musician playing music from famous Chinese films on every imaginable wind instrument, and some lovely dancers fleeting about, we got to go back up on stage to collect the awards once again. This time my son Jakob even had to go up to collect the prize for the American film “Playground” because there were no other US citizens around to do the job besides me, and I already had to make an appearance. Jake wasn’t exactly thrilled about the whole thing, but got up in the limelight for a minute or two.
Once again, I didn’t know what to make of it all. I’d been warned that surprises lurk around every corner in China, and boy is that true. This wasn’t the first award I’ve ever one, but it felt distinctly like a career highlight. I certainly couldn’t imagine being celebrated like this back in the US or Germany.
While I enjoyed the week at GZDOC, I was a bit sad about not getting to see a single film. Most of the screenings were held at cinemas throughout Guangzhou while the industry events all took place at the Chimelong Resort in Panyu – a Las Vegas-styled resort out in the suburbs. I did, however, get to meet quite a few filmmakers and have some good conversations with commissioning editors and other industry bigshots who are normally quite unapproachable at festivals back in the West. So maybe something will become of all this. If nothing else, I’ve had a fantastic trip to a country which defies description. I have a funny feeling this won’t be my last trip to China.
Many, many thanks to festival director Simon Ho and to all the friendly festival workers for making our stay in Guangzhou so pleasant!