Special forum focuses on sci-fi on China's big-screen
By Wang Wei

Sci-fi has become a focus among industry insiders and film critics at the ongoing Shanghai International Film Festival. At a special forum that opened Monday afternoon, filmmakers from around the world explored both the latest technical developments and essential narrative techniques of the genre.

At the Sci-fi Film-making Forum of the Shanghai Film Festival, the participants discussed the varied film-making approaches of the genre. In addition to storytelling, the participants also explored issues ranging from cultural differences, visual vocabulary, and the latest technological breakthroughs. 

"Film-making is about putting pictures on the screen," said Paul Franklin, who is a visual effects supervisor. "That is really what we've got to do." 

Inspired by curiosity and a sense of adventure, the sci-fi genre relies on a unique set of film-making approaches. Its workflow is different from other types, especially in post-production and visual effects. Filmmakers in China have long felt the need of importing an industrialized system, which would be essential to ensure both production quality and storytelling. 

A poster of "The Wandering Earth" is seen at a cinema in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. /VCG Photo

A poster of "The Wandering Earth" is seen at a cinema in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. /VCG Photo

Earlier this year, "The Wandering Earth" won wide critical acclaim. The space epic is considered an exemplar of the Chinese path in the sci-fi genre. 

Film critic Zhang Xiaobei said: "The challenge comes from how to find the balance. That is the balance between visual stimulation on the one hand, and decent storytelling and psychological portrayal on the other. It's quite difficult because we had little experience of success in this respect. That's why 'The Wandering Earth' should be seen as a milestone. Its success has given us a frame of reference. It allows us to get a feel of the psychology of the Chinese audience." 

With its box-office revenues of 4.6 billion yuan (660 million U.S. dollars), "The Wandering Earth" beat most imported sci-fi flicks of recent years. The strong performance has injected confidence into aspiring sci-fi filmmakers in China.