ART films that once could be seen on the big screen only at film festivals are now more widely available at city theaters thanks to creation of the Shanghai Art Film Federation.
The federation was launched this week by the Shanghai Film Distribution and Exhibition Association to promote the diversity of Chinese cinema.
Five recent Chinese art-house productions are being shown this month at the 10 theaters in the federation, including "Don't Expect Praises," "Fly With the Crane" and "Memories Look at Me," which have subtitles in English. Two other films, "Transcendence" and "Feng Shui," do not have English subtitles.
"The film industry in China is thriving these days," said Zhu Zhongxiang, director of Shanghai Film Distribution and Exhibition Association. "It is time for us to foster new, talented filmmakers and give audiences who have refined taste lot more alternatives."
Every day each federation theater offers at least two screenings, at 12pm and 8pm, chosen from among the five films. Tickets for each screening are 50 yuan (US$8).
Film experts and critics are invited to share their opinions with audiences after each screening. Film forums and an annual awards ceremony are planned to recognize gifted art movie directors and scriptwriters.
"The establishment of the federation is such exciting news to us," said Yang Jin, 31, whose "Don't Expect Praises" is his second feature film. "I don't want to make commercial movies. As an art-house film director, I have more flexibility and freedom in story-telling."
The movie, drawn from Yang's childhood experiences, is a mix of animation and live action about the adventures of two boys after their graduation from elementary school.
Yang said that despite acclaim from movie critics, the film has been rejected by many commercial cinemas. This month, however, it is expected to have around 100 screenings in federation theaters.
"Memories Look at Me," a nostalgic family drama by female director Song Fang, looks back on a family's happiness and pain through a long conversation between a daughter and her aged mother.
The 3D film "Transcendence" documents a New Year's concert of Cui Jian, known as father of China's rock music. It also depicts how Cui's music influenced a whole generation in the 1980s amid the country's tremendous changes.
"Fly With the Crane" is a sentimental picture about an old coffin-maker who believes that a person's soul and spirit can be preserved after death by being taken to heaven by a crane.
"Feng Shui" centers on the sufferings of a desperate middle-aged woman whose husband commits suicide after his extramarital affair is exposed.
In addition to showing recent works of young talent from home and abroad, retrospective exhibitions of celebrated film artists are planned for the near future.