Our Story

A City Film Festival

FIRST, a City Film Festival, focuses its eyes on young generation of filmmakers.

An international arena

FIRST, an international arena, aptly complements the global cinema scene.

A laboratory

FIRST, a laboratory, serves a birthplace to young filmmakers’ pictures.

FIRST International Film Festival, a film festival-style service platform in China, focuses on discovering and promoting young filmmakers and their works.

Since its inception in 2006, after 15 years of patient exploration and active experimentation, FIRST has intervened in the current Chinese youth film industry in the form of a film festival, focusing its direction on discovering debut and early works of filmmakers. It is also a berth in the basin of world cinema, offering the world a multi-faceted example of Chinese youth cinema in the mechanism of memorializing contemporary film history.

As a platform for the exchange of film culture, art and industry, FIRST revives the spirit of cinema by screening and promoting high-quality film works every year, providing the industry with a diverse selection of Chinese youth films, intervening in the ecological cycle of the film industry, and chiseling the memory of contemporary film history.

With its mission of the film industry and its responsibility as a public cultural institution, FIRST promotes the integration of film art into the film industry, reserves talents and film projects with room for growth for the industry, and contributes to the ecological cycle of film, which means that it provides the industry with annual trends in filmmaking and key energy for the metabolism of the film industry.

In 2012, FIRST added feature-length films into Main Competition secion. Over the past decade, FIRST film selection has covered over 53 countries and regions.

FIRST invites a host of established and esteemed filmmakers to sit on the Jury Committee and to maintain a strict and just juror system. Since 2012, the Festival has been honored to have Xu Feng (Taiwan, China), Ann Hui (Hong Kong, China), Xie Fei (China), Jiang Wen (China), Wong Kar-wai (Hong Kong, China) , Lou Ye (China) ,Chen Guo Fu (Taiwan, China) ,Diao Yi Nan(China) and Zhang Ai Jia(Taiwan,China) as Jury Presidents, and Xu Zheng, Qin Hailu, Deng Chao, Huang Bo, Chen Kun, Zhou Xun, Zhao wei, Hu Ge, Zhu Ya Wen, Wang Chuan Jun, Zhou Dong Yu, Hai Qing,Li Fei,Yi Yangqianxi,Wen Muye,Jing Boran,Huang Xiaoming,Yao Chen,Lei Jiayin and Xin Yukun as spokespersons. 

Over the decade, a number of filmmakers have received recognition and acclaims at the Festival, including Fan Lixin, Ma Li, Hao Jie, Wen Muye, Xin Yukun, Wang Yichun, Degena Yun, Ma Kai, Zhang Tao, Zhang Dalei, Cai Chengjie, Zhou Ziyang, Chan Ching-lin, Chou Sheng, Lu Qing Yi, Zhou Zhou, Gu Xiao Gang, Zhang ZhongchenXu Lei and Chai Xiao Yu.

Parallel to FIRST International Film Festival, FIRST Fantastic Film Festival Chengdu integrates diversified elements, such as film, music, art and technology, nurturing new creative ecosystems and encouraging cultural trends. The five sections of FFFF@CD (Fantastic Screening, Studio Tour, Fantastic Forum, Genre Film Lab and Producer Lab) are based on exploraing more space for testing the level of creavity. FFFF@CD takes the discovery and experimentation of genre films as its core mission, and aims to build a festival with distinctive style, clear recognition in the industry, strong gathering capacity and high interaction.


In Chengdu,FFFF@CD will try to interpret the cultural texture of the city in a new dimension and tell a new urban language of ‘some kind of unexpectation’ and ‘some kind of exclamation’: Presenting classic films from a new curatorial perspective and creating new experiences for the scene of ‘film wathcing’; using films to collide with various fields such as technology, art and music to create new cultural trends, provide richer experiences for audiences and broaden the horizons of industry professionals; and combining the efforts of all stakeholders to give FFFF@CD a more friendly and carnival quality.

Chronicle of Events

2006
FIRST International Film Festival (formerly known as Chinese College Students Film Festival) was founded at China University of Communications.
2007
a brick-shaped trophy began to be presented to award winners, meaning adding momentum to the filmmaking cause.
2008
FIRST set up the Spotlight section and designated the voting rights to the young generation.
2009
Trouble Makers (dir. Cao Baoping, 2006) was selected as College Students’ Favorite Film and the Festival was suspended for a year.
2010
FIRST film selection began to reach overseas and Sercio Basso became the first foreign director to garner an award.
2011
FIRST was relocated to Xining and has thus been named Xining FIRST International Film Festival.
2012
the shortlist - nomination jury system was launched and Born in Beijing (dir. Ma Li, 2011) made its surprising debut. Feature-length films became a category in Main Competition.
2013
filmmaker Hao Jie won the Best Narrative Film at FIRST. It was his second time to win this category in a row.
2014
The Coffin in the Mountain was submitted narrowly prior to the deadline. It garnered two awards and became the phenomenon of the year.
2015
among the 11 award winners, five were female filmmakers. Three female jurors sat on that year’s Jury Committee.
2016
Youth Film section and Student Film section merged into one single competition secion. The number of awards was reduced to 10.
2017
Summer is Gone (dir. Zhang Dalei, 2016), My Heart Leaps Up (dir. Liu Ziwei, 2016), Looming Storm (dir. Dong Yue, 2017) and Old Beast (dir. Zhou Ziyang, 2017) were released in theaters. The number broke the record.
2018
Hu Bo’s posthumous feature debut An Elephant Sitting Still (2018) premiered at Berlin International Film Festival. In the following two months, Wrath of Silence (dir. Xin Yukun, 2017), Knife in the Clear Water (dir. Wang Xuebo, 2016), The Taste of Rice Flower (dir. Pengfei, 2017) and Fate Express (dir. Li Fei, 2015) were released in theatre.
2019
Four Springs (dir. Lu Qingyi, 2017) became the first documentary from FIRST competition to get wide theatrical release in mainland China. The screening of Parasite (dir. Bong Joon-ho, 2019), the closing film, was cancelled due to technical reasons.
2020
The 14th edition took place in the original July time slot despite the COVID pandemic, becoming one of the first festivals in the world to occur with in-person screenings. A new competition Short Short Film was launched to encourage filmmaking in public and in varied forms. The increasing number of industry guests indicated the revival of the Chinese film industry.
2021
Best Documentary award of Xining FIRST International film festival is vacancy. The first year of FIRST Fantastic Film Festival Chengdu.