by Xinhua writer Liu Liwei
HOUSTON, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Movie industry insiders and other dignitaries have hailed the 52nd WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, which opened Friday in Houston, U.S. state of Texas, for its accentuation of Chinese movies and moviemakers.
"I grew up with American movies, obviously Western movies. That would be really, really excited to see what Chinese movies are like," said Megan Botha, who is responsible for international business development in Z LAB USA LLC, a Houston-based global marketing firm.
One of the two opening-night movies of the festival was "The Star and The Sea," co-directed by Li Qiankuan and Xiao Guiyun and first screened in China in 2011. It is a moving drama about the impoverished childhood of one of China's most famous composers, Xian Xinghai. His "Yellow River Cantata" was the most inspiring piece of music during the Chinese war against Japanese invasion in World War II.
Li and Xiao, both honorary life chairpersons of WorldFest-Houston, told Xinhua that diversity of arts and cultures is one of the highlights for the festival, and "cultural activities are very helpful in improving understanding between China and the United States."
Meanwhile, as part of the film festival, the WorldFest Focus on China brings the screenings of 15 Chinese feature films along with several Chinese short subjects.
Mayor of Houston Sylvester Turner mentioned in his greeting card for the festival that 200 filmmakers from China present the WorldFest Focus on China, and this is "the largest in the U.S."
"I am confident that this momentous occasion will enrich our city culturally and continue to be a remarkable showcase of talent and dedication," the mayor added.
WorldFest-Houston Chairman Hunter Todd considered the WorldFest Focus on China as a platform to provide opportunities for emerging Chinese directors and a window to China.
"I love the realism of Chinese film, and the independent Chinese films are especially good, because they reflect the spirits and personalities of China, and I love China," he said.
During the festival, 10 major categories of competition, including over 60 new independent feature films and 108 award-winning shorts as well as documentaries and student projects from around the globe, will be screened.
Zhou Jie, a prominent Chinese actress, dancer and educator, hailed the festival for its diversity and inclusion of various cultures.
"I believe that through the window of demonstrating China's history and culture, American people would understand more about China as well as Chinese culture. I'm confident that they would be fascinated by Chinese culture," Zhou told Xinhua at the opening ceremony.
Zhou starred in the film "Princess of Yang," which will be screened during the festival as one of the five Chinese film "masterpieces" including "The Star and The Sea."
Governor of Texas Greg Abbott as well as some other officials sent their greeting cards to the 52nd WorldFest-Houston film festival.
Zhang Ling, executive chairperson and head of Asia for WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, said that "I'll try my best to help film makers from Asia, in particular from China to promote their productions here."
WorldFest was founded over 52 years ago as Cinema Arts, an International Film Society in August 1961. It has since evolved into the third competitive international film festival in North America, following San Francisco and New York film festivals.
As one of the oldest independent film and video festivals in the world, WorldFest has discovered a long list of famous persons such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Ang Lee.