HOUSTON, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Films as part of pop culture is powerful to help promote the understanding between peoples, playing an important role in the development of U.S.-China relations, a former U.S. diplomat said Wednesday during the 52nd edition of the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival held here.
According to David Firestein, founding executive director of the China Public Policy Center at The University of Texas at Austin, negative incidents in bilateral ties didn't extend from the political level to public opinion. "One of the reasons is that public opinion is shaped by more profound and deeper cultural influences," he said when speaking at the Asia seminar during the annual film festival in Houston.
"Movie is probably one of the most important ones," noted Firestein, who is also head of George H.W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations.
"I think movies in particular have a very powerful impact," by impressing people "in a vivid and profound way," he said.
Firestein said Chinese films used to play a limited role in shaping how Americans viewed China, but things are now changing.
"The movie industry has become very robust and very active in China," Firestein said. "The production values, the topic matter and the sort of artistic sense are coming more into alignment with what American movie goers are expecting."
"And as a result, I think the impact on how Americans look at China is going to be greater and greater," he added.
This year, the competitive WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival opened on Friday and will run through April 14. During the period, 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 world, will be screened.
One of the world's oldest independent film festivals, WorldFest boasts discovering a long list of heavyweights including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Ang Lee.
The film festival received over 4,500 category entries from 74 nations and regions for its 2018 edition.