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Film fest rolls out the damp red carpet

ON a damp but star-studded red carpet outside Shanghai Grand Theater last night, Rupert Murdoch touted the new movie his Chinese-born wife produced while Matt Dillon yelled his affection for Shanghai in Chinese. More than 300 international and local celebrities joined Murdoch and Dillon to walk down the carpet in heavy rains to lift the curtain on the 14th Shanghai International Film Festival. Among them were Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon, Japanese film director Shunji Iwai and the newly married Shanghai star couple Deng Chao and Sun Li. Murdoch said that it was his first time attending the Shanghai International Film Festival. "I am very proud of my wife and the film ('Snow Flower and the Secret Fan') she produced." Dillon was thrilled by the warm welcome from local people. He yelled "Shanghai International Film Festival, I'm coming" in Chinese. Asian celebrities The festival's grand opening also attracted Hollywood-based Hong Kong director John Woo, Thai actors Pong and Bie as well as Taiwan model/actress Lin Chi-ling. This year's jury panel for the Golden Goblet award is headed by Barry Levinson, Oscar-winning director of "Rain Man." Levinson expressed his gratitude for the privilege to be the jury president. "Film festivals offer a rare opportunity for people from all over the world to share stories," Levinson said. "Storytelling is a mankind gene, and film is an art form that requires collaboration from many people to tell a story. I'm looking forward to a wonderful story here that can affect or move me," he added. During the opening ceremony, Sarandon received the Outstanding Artistic Life Achievement Award. Sarandon said that she didn't expect to receive such a big honor on her first visit to China. "Although I am a bad ping pong player, I have many ping pong clubs and bars near me in the States," Sarandon said. "I think playing ping pong with my new Chinese friends at the festival would be a very good excuse for me to be back to China." Francis Lawrence's latest film "Water For Elephants,"! which i s an epic romance set against the backdrop of Depression-era America, was the festival's opening film.

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