Venice Days, an independent sidebar of the Venice Film Festival, is crying foul over what it claims to be a fictitious joint initiative announced by the Shanghai Film Art Academy.
On the 18th, the school held an event that it claimed to be co-organized with Venice Days’ “Asia-Pacific Film Unit Committee” in Shanghai. There, the committee announced that it is building new platforms with Venice Days to bridge Chinese and European film industries, to turn Venice Days into a market event that would bring more Asian films to Europe and a fund to nurture young filmmakers.
However, the event – which was attended by songwriter, director and Alibaba Music Group co-founder Gao Xiaosong – kept referring to Venice Days as the Venice International Film Festival in Chinese (威尼斯國際電影節), although it is a independent sidebar event that is only held concurrently with the film festival.
Today, Venice Days released a statement denying any connection to the new initiative and Asian-Pacific – Venice Days Film Unit Event. The event accused the Shanghai Film Art Academy of using its name without approval, creating a “misleading association between the Venice Days brand and that of the Venice Biennale and the international formulations of the Venice Film Festival.”
The statement also says that even film critic Fabio Ferzetti, who was at the Shanghai International Film Festival on behalf of Venice Days looking into the possibility of holding a Venice Days promotional event at the SIFF in 2018, was not aware of the Shanghai Film Art Academy program. Venice Days says that it is prepared to take legal action against the school to defend its name.
The school actually made the first announcement of the initiative last September, announcing that it had acquired the exclusive rights to host the “Asia Pacific Film Art Unit” for the Venice International Film Festival for five years. It came after China Everbright Ltd. and IDG Capital Partners jointly acquired a controlling stake of the school.
The school also claimed that its founder Jiang Bo received a “Special Contribution Prize” from the festival last September, releasing a photo of Jiang posing with whom it claims to be Venice Days’ Roberto Barzanti, as well as an image of Jiang on the event’s red carpet.
In May, Venice Days did release an Italian statement saying that it was approached about a collaboration with the Shanghai Film Academy on a so-called “Asian-Pacific Film Unit” and to clear up that it is not connected to the Venice Biennale, despite Chinese media reports’ use of the words威尼斯國際電影節.
The Shanghai Film Art Academy has not updated its official Weibo account since last September, and it has not posted news of the SIFF event on its official website, even though it did put out an official press release that was picked up by the local press. Xinhua’s English-language news site originally carried news of the joint program, but it has since deleted the story.