Pingyao Year Zero was the inaugural year of an exciting new addition to the international film festival calendar, a new boutique event set in the truly unique location of the ancient city of Pingyao, provincial China. The result of a collaboration between pioneer Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang-Ke and high-profile festival director Marco Müller, PYIFF brought a carefully selected line-up of films from emerging Chinese filmmakers and highlights of the 2017 international film festival circuit representing 18 countries in a newly-converted old factory in the walled-2,700-year-old city of Pingyao, Shanxi, Jia Zhang-Ke’s home province – a far remove from the super cities of Beijing and Shanghai.

For Jia Zhang-Ke, the creation of the event was the realisation of a life-long dream – after achieving internationally-recognised success out of humble beginnings as an “underground” film director in Fenyang, he now wishes to turn his attention to providing the tools, resources and nurturing creative environment for the next generation of filmmakers in his hometown he never had.

For Müller, whose career has spanned stints at the most prestigious film festivals in the world from Venice to Locarno, and been characterised by a dedication to showcasing Asian cinema in the US and Europe, Pingyao was a unique opportunity to create an auteur’s festival in China. Müller told us about how he came to be involved with bringing Zhang-Ke’s vision to life, the challenges of launching a festival in provincial China, and his ambitions for its future.

By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 9th November 2017.
Videos: Ye Qiusen

Pingyao Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon Film Festival took place in Pingyao (China) from 28th October until 4th November. For further information visit their website here.