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Shi Nuo, film director.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Shi Nuo, a 26-year-old director, seeks to tackle the subject of aging and facing death in a 17-minute film that has just been

announced winner in its category at an annual event in Beijing.

Navigators features an accidental yet moving friendship between a dying old man and a bullied schoolboy who has lost his mother.

On Tuesday, the Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival declared the film had won the top prize in its international short film competition.

"You never know how to live until you come close to death," Shi says of her film. "I hope to share with the audiences what I found to be true-in life when pain and hardships strike, we can see beauty."

By giving prizes for short films for the first time since the annual festival's inception in 1992, its organizers, China Film Association, are looking to encourage the genre's growth in the country.

"For young filmmakers like me, it's our responsibility to explore what new technology has to offer to the film industry," says Shi, the Beijing-based director, who hopes to develop her own style of filmmaking while experimenting with technology.

Shi studied at both New York Film Academy and Beijing Film Academy, and is working on TV series other than short films.

With technology advancing in the past few years, making short films and distributing them on various platforms has become much cheaper and easier, according to Zhou Xing, president of the School of Art and Communication at Beijing Normal University.

Zhou helped set up the competition in the festival and was also on the judging panel.

"More filmmakers will be producing short films online, and these films will reach out to more people," Zhou says. "So, the recognition from one of China's eminent film awards will encourage young people to work in the right direction."

Browse photography at Denver.Gallery.