Film Screen­ings in Ru­ral Ar­eas

Non-profit film screen­ings al­low Bei­jing’s ru­ral res­i­dents to en­joy the achieve­ments of the Chi­nese film in­dus­try’s re­form and de­vel­op­ment and have a greater sense of gain and hap­pi­ness.

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Wang Wei Edited by Justin Davis

Is a film go­ing to be screened tonight as usual?” a vil­lager asked. “Yes. Qiu Shaoyun,” pro­jec­tion­ist Li Liqing said. Qiu Shaoyun is a film about Qiu Shaoyun (1926–1952), a mar­tyr from the Chi­nese Peo­ple's Vol­un­teer Army who died dur­ing the Korean War.

A sud­den, heavy rain poured down in Xim­agezhuang Vil­lage in Men­tougou Dis­trict. Some peo­ple be­gan to doubt if Film Day, which takes place every Thurs­day, would oc­cur as usual. Li was learn­ing how to op­er­ate the new equip­ment at a screen­ing hall in the vil­lage. With the help of some ex­perts, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new equip­ment was go­ing smoothly. Li quickly be­came fa­mil­iar with how to use the equip­ment as well.

Vil­lagers were able to make it to the screen­ing hall af­ter din­ner. Short films per­tain­ing to good causes were screened first. Then Qiu Shaoyun be­gan. Peo­ple be­came im­mersed in the touch­ing story. Li stood smil­ing in the back row, watch­ing the clear frames and ab­sorbed au­di­ence in front of her.

A project known as the 2131 Project has been im­ple­mented in China. It is a gov­ern­ment-spon­sored project to im­ple­ment more film screen­ings in ru­ral ar­eas across the coun­try. Peo­ple can ac­cess dig­i­tal film screen­ing as a re­sult of this project. More screen­ing halls are be­com­ing avail­able in the city's ru­ral ar­eas. Out­door screen­ings, which have de­clined in re­cent times, are be­com­ing more com­mon again also. There are now more film-re­lated events in Xim­agezhuang. Peo­ple can en­joy pop­u­lar films, such as Hong­hai xing­dong

( Op­er­a­tion Red Sea, 2018), Xi­uxiu de tiequan ( Never Say Die, 2017), Shibadong­cun ( Hold Your Hands, 2017) and even 3D films such as Zhan­lang II ( Wolf War­rior II, 2017). The city's farm­ers are very happy about this de­vel­op­ment. Some peo­ple stated, “We can see many good films free of charge!” when talk­ing about the project.

In­creas­ing Film Screen­ings in Ru­ral Ar­eas

Daguan­lou Cinema stands on Dashilar Busi­ness Street in the Qian­men area near Tian'an­men Square. It is more than 100 years old and is one of the China's ear­li­est cin­e­mas. It is con­sid­ered the birth­place of Chi­nese films. Watch­ing movies is of course a nor­mal part of life for many peo­ple in Bei­jing now. There are many cin­e­mas with large screens, com­fort­able seats and tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled rooms in Bei­jing. An in­creas­ing amount of Chi­nese films with mod­ern au­dio­vi­sual ef­fects are be­ing screened.

In 2017, box of­fice earn­ings in Bei­jing amounted to 3.395 bil­lion yuan. There were 2.7371 mil­lion film screen­ings, 76.3631 mil­lion tick­ets sold and 3.51 vis­its per per­son to cin­e­mas in Bei­jing. The city fea­tured 1,469 screens in 215 cin­e­mas. Six Chi­nese films had box of­fice earn­ings ex­ceed­ing one bil­lion yuan. Wolf War­rior

Ⅱ (2017) and Never Say Die (2017) were pro­duced by film com­pa­nies based in Bei­jing and are two ex­am­ples. They were the top two high­est gross­ing do­mes­tic films last year, mak­ing 5.683 bil­lion yuan and 2.212 bil­lion yuan, re­spec­tively.

When search­ing for cin­e­mas in Bei­jing with an elec­tronic de­vice, one will see red dots ev­ery­where, each of which rep­re­sents a cinema. Most of them are lo­cated within the city's Fifth Ring Road and down­town ar­eas in its sub­urbs. There are newly de­vel­oped cin­e­mas at vil­lages and towns in ur­ban-ru­ral fringe zones but moun­tain­ous ar­eas have far fewer the­atres avail­able. For peo­ple liv­ing in those ar­eas, see­ing a movie is less com­mon. It can even be some­thing of a lux­ury.

Film is for ev­ery­one and should not be a priv­i­lege for a cer­tain group of peo­ple or peo­ple liv­ing in a spe­cific re­gion. There­fore, in 1998, the Min­istry of Cul­ture and the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Ra­dio, Film and Tele­vi­sion pro­posed that the 2131 Project for ru­ral res­i­dents be im­ple­mented across China. It in­cluded a goal of show­ing at least one film per month in each vil­lage in China by the early 21st cen­tury. This goal was sup­posed to be sub­sidised by the gov­ern­ment as well. In 2000, the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion; the Min­istry of Cul­ture; and the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Ra­dio, Film and Tele­vi­sion is­sued a doc­u­ment stat­ing that the project would be in­cluded in the gov­ern­ment's eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment plans at all lev­els. A spe­cial fund was es­tab­lished for the film screen­ings in ru­ral ar­eas. In 2007, the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Ra­dio, Film and Tele­vi­sion is­sued a doc­u­ment to fur­ther the de­vel­op­ment of the film screen­ings and stan­dard­ise them and their dis­tri­bu­tion as dig­i­tal film be­came more pop­u­lar.

Bei­jing is a pi­o­neer city re­gard­ing the project. The Peo­ple's Gov­ern­ment of Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal­ity has listed the 2131 Project as one of its ma­jor projects since 2006. Some lo­cal Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) com­mit­tees and gov­ern­ment of­fices con­sider the project to be very im­por­tant on their sched­ules. Some ar­eas con­sider

the project to be a way to help as­sess the im­prove­ment of pub­lic cul­tural ser­vices in gen­eral. The project is of­ten cat­e­gorised as a way to bring tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits and im­prove­ments to peo­ple's lives and to im­prov­ing vil­lages. Some ar­eas have also in­cor­po­rated the project into a pro­gramme that eval­u­ates the per­for­mance of gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials. Film screen­ings are an im­por­tant part of cul­tural de­vel­op­ment in ru­ral ar­eas. This ben­e­fits ru­ral res­i­dents and im­proves their well-be­ing. Bei­jing has in­vested in the de­vel­op­ment of nearly 4,000 dig­i­tal screen­ing halls and has supplied 300 mo­bile pro­jec­tors since 2006. It is the only city in China to re­alise full cover­age of dig­i­tal film screen­ings city­wide since 2009 thus far. The city av­er­ages 40 screen­ings per vil­lage each year. More than 550 films cov­er­ing a va­ri­ety of themes are screened per year. There have been more than 170,000 to­tal screen­ings each year in Bei­jing's ru­ral ar­eas. Peo­ple have en­joyed the movies more than 8.2 mil­lion times each year. The film screen­ings are non­profit en­deav­ours. Ru­ral res­i­dents do not need to pay to watch them.

Se­lect­ing a Va­ri­ety of Films

Clas­sic movies like Yingx­iongernü ( Heroic Sons and Daugh­ters, 1964), Li­ubao de gushi ( The Story of Li­ubao Vil­lage, 1957) and Zhuiyu ( To Catch a Fish, 1959) are sched­uled for Sep­tem­ber in Pingyuan Vil­lage in Bei­jing's Men­tougou Dis­trict. Some newer movies like Xiongchumo zhi xiongxin guilai ( Boonie Bears: the Big Top Se­cret, 2015) and Xiongchumo zhi qi­huan kongjian ( En­ter­tain­ing Worlds, 2017) are be­ing screened as well.

Some peo­ple may won­der why old films are in­cor­po­rated into the project. “The rea­son is, it de­pends on who the film­go­ers are in the ru­ral ar­eas and what they pre­fer,” Han Peng ex­plained. Han works with the Men­tougou Film Dis­tri­bu­tion Cen­tre. “Most young adults from the ru­ral ar­eas work in ur­ban Bei­jing. Most peo­ple who stay in the ru­ral ar­eas are chil­dren and the el­derly. They tend to like an­i­ma­tion and adaptations of tra­di­tional Chi­nese op­eras, re­spec­tively.” Films cov­er­ing themes like pa­tri­o­tism are of­ten avail­able also. Not less than 60 per­cent films pro­duced over the past two years need to be screened for non-profit screen­ings in its ru­ral ar­eas. Re­cent Chi­nese block­busters like Wolf War­rior Ⅱ (2017) and Op­er­a­tion Red Sea (2018) are very pop­u­lar. Liu Yingjie, a pro­jec­tion­ist from the Cul­ture Cen­tre of Yang­song Town in Huairou Dis­trict stated: “In May, many lo­cal peo­ple gath­ered in Huairou Square to see Wolf War­rior Ⅱ (2017). Au­di­ence mem­bers spon­ta­neously ap­plauded when they saw Leng Feng (the hero of the film) hold­ing the Chi­nese flag and mov­ing through a con­flict zone.”

Pro­jec­tion­ists com­mu­ni­cate with lo­cal vil­lagers to learn about what they want to see. Han ex­plained, “If there is a lot of in­ter­est in a par­tic­u­lar movie, we will look for it at the cen­tre and show it if it is avail­able.”

The cen­tre Han is re­fer­ring to is the Dig­i­tal Film Pro­gramme Man­age­ment Cen­tre of the Na­tional Ra­dio and Tele­vi­sion Ad­min­is­tra­tion. The cen­tre is a source of films for the ru­ral res­i­dents and ad­heres to copy­right law. It pos­sesses a data­base of more than 10,000 dig­i­tal films. The cen­tre pro­vides a va­ri­ety of ser­vices for the ru­ral film screen­ings, dig­i­tal cin­e­mas in ur­ban ar­eas, home the­atres, stream­ing video web­sites and high-def­i­ni­tion film chan­nels.

Though the screen­ing halls in the city's ru­ral ar­eas can­not screen brand new block­busters, they do not al­ways show old films. Some new films can be screened in the city's ru­ral cin­e­mas and screen­ing halls within two months af­ter they were screened at ur­ban cin­e­mas though. Some cur­rent films can even be screened at the ru­ral screen­ing halls with­out a wait­ing pe­riod. There are 58 com­mer­cial cin­e­mas and more than 40 screen­ing halls in the city's ru­ral ar­eas. The city's ru­ral res­i­dents have op­por­tu­ni­ties to en­joy re­cent films. Some ar­eas even have both non-profit and com­mer­cial op­tions.

The tech­nol­ogy be­ing used in the ru­ral ar­eas is im­prov­ing also. 3D films are mak­ing their way to these ar­eas. Men­tougou Dis­trict has been screen­ing 3D films since Sep­tem­ber 2017 in its moun­tain­ous ar­eas, in­clud­ing places like Qing­shui and Zhai­tang, ben­e­fit­ing more than 5,000 vil­lagers. These were China's first 3D film screen­ings in ru­ral ar­eas. Han stated: “We think watch­ing 3D films is com­mon. It is still a new ex­pe­ri­ence for many ru­ral res­i­dents though. They aren't nec­es­sar­ily aware of the 3D film era and may not have any ex­pe­ri­ence with it. Our 3D film screen­ings in the coun­try­side have en­abled more ru­ral res­i­dents to see them and give it a try.”

There is a lot of an­tic­i­pa­tion for the film screen­ings in ru­ral ar­eas. They can even ex­ceed the oc­cu­pancy rate of com­mer­cial cin­e­mas. Li­ulim­iao Town in Huairou Dis­trict has more than 8,000 res­i­dents in its 25 vil­lages. Zhao Feng­wen, a pro­jec­tion­ist who works at the film screen­ings in the town, men­tioned: “In big vil­lages, a screen­ing can at­tract 50 or 60 vil­lagers. In small vil­lages, more than ten

peo­ple will usu­ally come. This might sound small, but it may be a third or a half of the whole vil­lage. In fact, apart from block­busters, at cin­e­mas in the city's ur­ban ar­eas, there are only sev­eral film­go­ers for each screen­ing dur­ing non-prime pe­riod.”

Up­grad­ing the Pro­jec­tion Equip­ment

On the even­ing of Fri­day, Au­gust 24 this year, more than 500 film­go­ers gath­ered at Da­gan­tang Vil­lage's Cen­tre Square in Tongzhou Dis­trict. It was a film screen­ing night, and Op­er­a­tion Red Sea (2018) was about to start. Many peo­ple came to the square early to talk to peo­ple and find a good place to sit. The clear im­ages ap­peared on a big screen. Most peo­ple quickly be­came im­mersed in the movie. A few peo­ple whis­pered with each other. Some chil­dren im­i­tated the di­a­logue in the movie.

A film in­dus­try del­e­ga­tion from the Lao Peo­ple's Demo­cratic Repub­lic was present in the au­di­ence. Co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the film in­dus­tries of Laos and China has been deep­en­ing and is part of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive. The main pur­pose of the Laos film del­e­ga­tion's trip was to learn about the On­line Film Man­age­ment Sys­tem for Ru­ral Ar­eas and the On­line Ser­vice Plat­form for Ru­ral Ar­eas that the China Film Group Cor­po­ra­tion (CFGC) uses. They were also vis­it­ing some of the venues that are used for non-profit film screen­ings and learn­ing about the pro­jec­tors and other equip­ment that are used in ru­ral ar­eas in Bei­jing. The Laos film del­e­ga­tion en­joyed the full moon, warm sum­mer night and invit­ing at­mos­phere in the crowd. The head of the del­e­ga­tion had planned to watch the start of the movie for about 10 min­utes and then con­tinue with other stops on their trip. The del­e­ga­tion stayed for about 40 min­utes though. He said: “This en­vi­ron­ment fas­ci­nates me. We need to learn from you. I hope Laos and China can fur­ther strengthen our co­op­er­a­tion in the film in­dus­try.”

This film screen­ing at Da­gan­tang Vil­lage was or­gan­ised by the Shiji Dong­fang Dig­i­tal Cinema Com­pany. The M600 pro­jec­tor was used. There are only two com­pa­nies that screen films in ru­ral Bei­jing: Shiji Dong­fang Dig­i­tal Cinema Com­pany and the Benx­i­aokang Dig­i­tal Cinema Com­pany. The two cinema com­pa­nies were ap­proved to carry out film screen­ings by the gov­ern­ment agen­cies through an open bid­ding process. The for­mer was founded in May 2006 and is re­spon­si­ble for film dis­tri­bu­tion and screen­ings in ru­ral ar­eas across the coun­try. Its screen­ing equip­ment is based on its own R&D and has been ap­proved by the gov­ern­ment's tech­no­log­i­cal in­spec­tion and test­ing in­sti­tu­tions. The lat­ter is gov­ern­mentspon­sored and was ap­proved by the Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal Bu­reau of Cul­ture to im­ple­ment more film screen­ings in the ru­ral ar­eas. It was founded by the Bei­jing Film Com­pany and Bei­jing Shidai Huaxia Jin­dian Cinema Com­pany in De­cem­ber 2006.

Film pro­jec­tors are an im­por­tant part of the film screen­ings in ru­ral ar­eas. Most of the pro­jec­tion­ists in the city's ru­ral ar­eas are not pro­fes­sion­als. The pro­jec­tors that have been se­lected for the film screen­ings in ru­ral ar­eas pro­vide com­plete screen­ing func­tions. They have smart fea­tures and are easy to use. The M600 is an ex­am­ple. It was de­vel­oped by Shiji Dong­fang. There is a small screen on the right side of the M600 that shows what is be­ing pro­jected. Ac­cord­ing to Gen­eral Man­ager of Shiji Dong­fang Zhuang Yin: “The M600 meets na­tional pro­jec­tor stan­dards. We ad­just our pro­jec­tors ac­cord­ing to the needs of the mar­ket and the au­di­ence. For ex­am­ple, our pre­vi­ous pro­jec­tor was very com­pre­hen­sive, in­cluded a server and kept costs high. The M600 is leaner, cheaper and more stream­lined.”

Shiji Dong­fang has pro­vided 1,598 M600 pro­jec­tors in Bei­jing. They are very sta­ble, have a low fail­ure rate, in­cor­po­rate smart fea­tures and movies can be ar­ranged on de­mand. It has be­come one of the most favoured pro­jec­tors among pro­jec­tion­ists at the grass­roots level. Shiji Dong­fang has even mod­i­fied the M600 to make it eas­ier to use. The screen has been en­larged and some ad­just­ments have been made to its keys. The com­pany's Deputy Gen­eral Man­ager Zhang Haiyan ex­plained: “Though its hard­ware has been up­graded, its op­er­a­tion process has not changed much. We still call it the M600. The pro­jec­tion­ists can usu­ally quickly adapt to it.”

Wang Xiaochen was ex­cited when he logged into his Wechat (so­cial me­dia plat­form sim­i­lar to Face­book and What­sapp) ac­count at about 9:30 a.m. re­cently. He re­ceived some mes­sages stat­ing: “Ji­uyuan is Ok,” “huang­tai is OK” and “Lüji­apo is Ok.” this was the green light for him and his team to up­grade 34 pro­jec­tors in Qian­shan in Men­tougou Dis­trict that day.

Wang Xiaochen is gen­eral man­ager of the Bei­jing Benx­i­aokang Dig­i­tal Cinema Com­pany. Wang wanted to gather all the old equip­ment in the ru­ral ar­eas and re­place it in one lo­ca­tion. Most of Men­tougou is moun­tain­ous though. It is not ef­fi­cient to gather the equip­ment in this way. Wang ex­plained: “We made a spe­cial ar­range­ment. We dis­patched five groups of tech­ni­cians to re­place equip­ment in dif­fer­ent vil­lages. Yes­ter­day the work was smooth and 44 ma­chines were re­placed.”

Xim­agezhuang Vil­lage is lo­cated in Men­tougou's moun­tain­ous ar­eas. It had some pro­jec­tion equip­ment that needed to be re­placed. Pro­jec­tion­ists can also be trained face to face if tech­ni­cians up­grade and re­place equip­ment in this way.

Li Liqing has pro­jected films for more than three years in the vil­lage. She is fa­mil­iar with the old equip­ment. The rocker switches she has used for years are now but­tons. Func­tion keys like F1 and F2 are en­larged. The new equip­ment fea­tures an in­ter­face with clearer text and smart func­tions. She stated: “This new equip­ment (Mon­tage V12x) is much eas­ier to op­er­ate than the old pro­jec­tor. Mi­nor prob­lems have been solved also, as ex­pected.”

The new equip­ment makes ev­ery­thing more ef­fi­cient, and it is very easy to ad­here to copy­right law. Wang ex­plained: “The new equip­ment fea­tures a 4G mod­ule. Au­to­mat­i­cally gen­er­ated real-time in­for­ma­tion in the sys­tem's log files can al­most in­stantly be trans­mit­ted to a mon­i­tor­ing cen­tre. The gov­ern­ment re­quires that at least 95 per­cent of a film be shown. This time­frame is con­sid­ered an ef­fec­tive screen­ing. Such a screen­ing will pass an eval­u­a­tion and help ob­tain subsidies from the gov­ern­ment. The pro­jec­tor au­to­mat­i­cally records daily op­er­a­tions and can iden­tify screen­ings. For ex­am­ple, af­ter a 95-minute film ended, a log file shows that it fin­ished. If a movie was not fin­ished for some rea­son,

that is in­di­cated also. The pro­jec­tor can re­mem­ber where a movie was stopped if there is an in­ter­rup­tion and it needs to be re­sumed later.”

Smart pro­jec­tors as­sist in the man­age­ment of film screen­ings and re­duce ab­nor­mal screen­ing rates. The city has also is­sued more than ten doc­u­ments in re­cent years re­gard­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the 2131 Project. These cover things like spe­cial fund man­age­ment, spe­cific stan­dards to reg­u­late non-profit film screen­ings like GPS/GPRS plat­forms, the pro­vi­sion of a va­ri­ety of ser­vices, se­lec­tion of films, ad­just­ment of screen­ing times and or­gan­is­ing le­gal train­ing for the screen­ings. In 2017, the ab­nor­mal screen­ing rate in Bei­jing was only 0.27 per­cent, which was far be­low the na­tional av­er­age level. Sat­is­fac­tion with ru­ral screen­ings ex­ceeded 85 per­cent also.

Bring­ing Hap­pi­ness to Ru­ral Res­i­dents

“Film Fu” (nick­name of pro­jec­tion­ist Fu Deshun) is well-known in Miyun Dis­trict's Beizhuang Town. One day in July at around 7:30 p.m., it was still light out. Film Fu was leav­ing the Of­fice of the Peo­ple's Gov­ern­ment of Beizhuang Town in a white van with pro­jec­tors in it. A vil­lager af­fec­tion­ately greeted him on his way, ask­ing: “Hi, Film Fu! Where are you go­ing to show films now?” “in Dongzhuang Vil­lage,” Fu replied.

Beizhuang Town is sur­rounded by Wuzhi Moun­tain, Zhuifeng Moun­tain and Bangchui Moun­tain and sit­u­ated near the Qing­shuihe River, Dahuangyan River and Xiao­huangyan River. Its vil­lages, there­fore, have a scat­tered lay­out. This makes plan­ning film screen­ings some­what more dif­fi­cult. Fu re­called: “Many years ago, there were no high­ways in the moun­tain­ous ar­eas, and I was not al­lo­cated a car. I had to trans­port films that weighed over 50 kilo­grammes around the moun­tains by bi­cy­cle. Each round trip usu­ally took me more than one hour. It took me about four hours to­tal to screen a film. I of­ten ar­rived at home at 1 or 2 a.m.”

Fu pulled into a small play­ground in Dongzhuang Vil­lage. Some chil­dren and el­derly res­i­dents were wait­ing, ex­cited to see the movie that even­ing. Some of the chil­dren shouted, “Here comes Film Fu's van!” as it pulled up. He turned off the ig­ni­tion, un­loaded the equip­ment, con­nected some wires and tested the pro­jec­tor while chat­ting with the vil­lagers. Some of them helped him with his du­ties. One of them stated: “Fu has worked very hard by him­self for decades. Many of us grew up watch­ing films that he helped ar­range.”

Fu men­tioned: “As long as they love watch­ing films, I will try my best to show more. If they are happy, I will be happy!” In 1976, 18-year-old Fu took a three-month­long train­ing class to learn about screen­ing movies. He be­gan to show 8.75 mil­lime­tre (mm) films. There is a vil­lage called Zhuan­shan­hui in Beizhuang Town. Its name means that one needs to pass be­tween many moun­tains to get there. Many years ago, Fu or­gan­ised an out­door screen­ing of Nan­hai fengyun ( Storm over the South-china Sea, 1976) there. A heavy rain de­scended in the area though, in­ter­rupt­ing the film. Fu be­gan to take the equip­ment away. The vil­lagers stayed in the area though, un­der roof eaves and other dry places. Fu re­alised that the films were a ma­jor form of en­ter­tain­ment in the vil­lages. He de­cided to cover the pro­jec­tor with an um­brella and con­tin­ued to show the film. Fu re­called: “There was no TV at that time. If one had a ra­dio, he or she would lis­ten to it dur­ing the day. Peo­ple thought that watch­ing a movie was one of the best forms of en­ter­tain­ment.” In the past, he could pro­vide more than 300 screen­ings a year. He was con­stantly trav­el­ling through the moun­tains with his pro­jec­tor. Fu did not go home un­til the 29th day of the 12th month of the lu­nar cal­en­dar, which is two days be­fore Chi­nese New Year. His wife asked him what he got in re­turn for his hard work. He felt guilty about be­ing away from his fam­ily a lot. He replied: “I am a mem­ber of the CPC and need to think about my large fam­ily of au­di­ence mem­bers as well as my small fam­ily.”

Fu has wit­nessed the change from 8.75 mm to 16 mm film and from re­flec­tion bulbs to brighter bromine tung­sten bulbs in­side the pro­jec­tors and fi­nally the change to dig­i­tal pro­jec­tion. He said with deep emo­tion: “The films had to be re­wound in the past. The dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy that we use now is re­ally con­ve­nient. I only need to pre­pare a hard disk to down­load films from the

film dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre. I even have a re­mote con­trol.” He con­tin­ued: “Some­times vil­lagers take the op­por­tu­nity to chat with neigh­bours at the screen­ings. The cool screen­ing halls can be a good break from their houses in the sum­mer also, which may be a lit­tle hot.” Pro­jec­tion­ists can re­ceive 70 yuan per screen­ing. They can earn an ad­di­tional 2,800 yuan if they or­gan­ise at least 40 screen­ings in a year. The project can pro­vide some ex­tra in­come. It can be a big com­mit­ment to ar­range ev­ery­thing rain or shine, es­pe­cially for decades on end. Fu has screened films in moun­tain­ous ar­eas for 43 years. He has or­gan­ised over 10,000 screen­ings.

There are many pro­jec­tion­ists like Fu in Bei­jing. Some of them are heads of cul­tural cen­tres in towns and town­ships, and some of them are staff mem­bers from vil­lage com­mit­tees. They share a com­mon source of pride, which is “bring­ing hap­pi­ness to the pub­lic and or­gan­is­ing film screen­ings.” In Au­gust 2018, Fu re­tired from screen­ing films. Al­though he screened many films, he had not con­sid­ered him­self a true film lover. He thinks he was com­mit­ted to do­ing his job well and help­ing the pub­lic. He once said, “Lov­ing what­ever you are en­gaged in is a must. Screen­ing films is my job.”

Screen­ing More Films

“At­ten­tion please! Wolf War­rior II (2017) is go­ing to be screened at 7:00 p.m. It is a 3D film...” qing­baikou Vil­lage in Men­tougou an­nounced the plan for the even­ing. A film screen­ing sched­ule also gets posted on a no­tice board at the gate of the vil­lage com­mit­tee of­fice. The names of up­com­ing films and the dates and times of their screen­ings are listed. A mes­sage was also posted by the of­fi­cial Wechat ac­count for the vil­lage. More in­for­ma­tion was avail­able in a Wechat group as well. Vil­lagers talked about the 3D glasses. Ver­bal an­nounce­ments, no­tice boards and so­cial me­dia are all good chan­nels to dis­trib­ute in­for­ma­tion in the vil­lage.

“Is it in­ter­est­ing?” han asked with a smile. The screen­ing halls and the mo­bile film pro­jec­tion squads have a warm at­mos­phere. The pro­jec­tion­ists usu­ally re­spect the vil­lagers' sug­ges­tions. A vil­lager re­marked: “Show this mar­tial arts film. It is ex­cit­ing!” An­other re­quested: “I want to see this sci­en­tific doc­u­men­tary. I grow fruit trees. It is use­ful.”

The non-profit film screen­ings in the ru­ral ar­eas usu­ally repect the choice of most au­di­ences. Films cov­er­ing a va­ri­ety of themes and gen­res have been screened to en­cour­age more vil­lagers to watch them and of­fer a com­pre­hen­sive pub­lic cul­tural prod­uct. Some of the movies set good ex­am­ples re­gard­ing so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity at var­i­ous lev­els. Dur­ing the 2018 New Year's Day and the Spring Fes­ti­val hol­i­day, the Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal Bu­reau of the Press, Pub­li­ca­tion, Ra­dio, Film and Tele­vi­sion screened films that per­tained to the guid­ing prin­ci­ples of the 19th Na­tional Congress of the CPC in 2017 and 40 years of great achieve­ments dur­ing China's pe­riod of eco­nomic re­form. Fifty do­mes­tic films that were pro­duced in the last two years were se­lected that cover ma­jor themes, have a pos­i­tive im­pact and a good rep­u­ta­tion. The city's 3,693 screen­ing halls and 306 sets of mo­bile pro­jec­tion equip­ment im­ple­mented more than 16,000 non­profit screen­ings in vil­lages, com­mu­ni­ties, mil­i­tary camps, schools, con­struc­tion sites and or­phan­ages. In order to im­prove the qual­ity of the screen­ings, the city also or­gan­ised film lec­tures. Film in­dus­try ex­perts and films pro­duc­tion teams were in­vited to talk about film­mak­ing, their cre­ative back­grounds, movie plots and back­ground in­for­ma­tion about their films at cul­tural cen­tres in vil­lages, towns and com­mu­ni­ties, help­ing peo­ple at the grass­roots level to learn about the film in­dus­try and ex­pe­ri­ence its cul­ture.

A va­ri­ety of film screen­ing events with dif­fer­ent themes have been held across the city. Huairou Dis­trict has held seven con­sec­u­tive open-air film screen­ing sea­sons cov­er­ing the “Golden Years.” These sea­sons have be­come pop­u­lar cul­tural events in the sum­mer. Shunyi Dis­trict has com­bined film screen­ings with ed­u­ca­tion. Six­teen schools, in­clud­ing Ni­u­lan­shan Mid­dle School, have in­cor­po­rated film screen­ings into their cur­ricu­lum. Every stu­dent can see about 20 films a year. The con­tent is closely re­lated to other ed­u­ca­tional ac­tiv­i­ties. The pro­gramme has been well re­ceived by stu­dents and teach­ers. Miyun Dis­trict has held 13 “Safe Pro­duc­tion Month” film screen­ing ses­sions. Its 2018 “Life First, Safe De­vel­op­ment” event in­volved 22 mo­bile film screen­ing squads and 344 ru­ral screen­ing halls. More than 700 screen­ings took place at con­struc­tion sites, en­ter­prises, com­mu­ni­ties and in vil­lages, at­tract­ing a to­tal of more than 23,000 au­di­ence mem­bers.

In Au­gust 2018, the Sports Film Screen­ings for Ru­ral Res­i­dents in Prepa­ra­tion for the Bei­jing 2022 Olympic Win­ter Games se­ries of events be­gan. It will last for more than four years. Re­sources pro­vided by the Na­tional Ra­dio and Tele­vi­sion Ad­min­is­tra­tion's Film Screen­ing Plat­form for Ru­ral Res­i­dents and the Non-profit Film Screen­ing Net­work for Ru­ral Res­i­dents of Bei­jing will be used to pro­vide more than 100,000 sports film screen­ings in more than 4,000 vil­lages and sub-dis­tricts. The screen­ings are part of the events lead­ing up to the up­com­ing Win­ter Olympics. They will en­cour­age peo­ple to be in­volved with sports, sup­port the Bei­jing 2022 Olympic Win­ter Games and spread­ing the Olympic spirit. The pub­lic has wel­comed the screen­ings. They have also at­tracted the at­ten­tion of In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee (IOC). IOC Pres­i­dent Thomas Bach pre­sented a spe­cial con­grat­u­la­tory video that was shown at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the event se­ries. Fran­cis Ga­bet, di­rec­tor of the Olympic Foun­da­tion for Cul­ture and Her­itage, de­liv­ered a speech at the open­ing cer­e­mony as well. The IOC sent a spe­cial team to doc­u­ment the open­ing cer­e­mony of the event se­ries.

Watch­ing films is one of the most ac­tive and pop­u­lar forms of en­ter­tain­ment in ru­ral ar­eas across the coun­try. As of De­cem­ber 31, 2017, there are 319 dig­i­tal cinema com­pa­nies, 305 agen­cies deal­ing with dig­i­tal films' copy­rights and 219 ground sta­tions in China. Forty-six thou­sand four hun­dred twenty-eight sets of pro­jec­tion equip­ment are in use. More than 11.24 mil­lion screen­ings were or­dered. The project to screen more films in ru­ral ar­eas will con­tinue. Non-profit film screen­ings al­low the city's ru­ral res­i­dents to en­joy the achieve­ments of the Chi­nese film in­dus­try's re­form and de­vel­op­ment and have a greater sense of gain and hap­pi­ness.

Pho­tos by Zhao Meng

Li Liqing works as a pro­jec­tion­ist at Xim­agezhuang Vil­lage in Men­tougou Dis­trict.

Up­grad­ing pro­jec­tion equip­ment

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