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A Film Festival

FIRST, a Film Festival, focuses its eyes on filmmakers’ debuts.

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 is committed to the discovery and promotion of emerging filmmakers and their early works. Held annually from July 26 to Aug 3 in Xining, China, FIRST made its debut in 2005 and has concentrated on filmmakers’ first features and early works. A vehicle of film cutlures, FIRST endeavors to embed film viewing cultures into daily life. FIRST has long dedicated to chanelling the bold and innovative spirits of emerging Chinese filmmakers to the global vision.

Also an occasion gathering film professionals from with all stages of filmmaking, FIRST bridges the  creative minds and the film industry. FIRST makes endless efforts to lay a sound path for art to meet with industrial procedures and to hold in store a number of filmmakers and film projects with great potential. It has played a significant role in the boosting of Chinese film industry. 

In 2012, FIRST added feature-length films into Main Competition secion. Over the past six years, FIRST film selection has covered over 53 countries and regions. In 2018, The 13th edition of FIRST International Film Festival received 1414 online submissions, which grows 20% compared to last year.

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) and Diao Yi Nan(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 and Li Fei 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, Xu Lei and Chai Xiao Yu.


FIRST International Film Festival (formerly known as Chinese College Students Film Festival) was founded at China University of Communications.
a brick-shaped trophy began to be presented to award winners, meaning adding momentum to the filmmaking cause.
FIRST set up the Spotlight section and designated the voting rights to the young generation.
Trouble Makers (dir. Cao Baoping, 2006) was selected as College Students’ Favorite Film and the Festival was suspended for a year.
FIRST film selection began to reach overseas and Sercio Basso became the first foreign director to garner an award.
FIRST was relocated to Xining and has thus been named Xining FIRST International Film Festival.
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.
filmmaker Hao Jie won the Best Narrative Film at FIRST. It was his second time to win this category in a row.
The Coffin in the Mountain was submitted narrowly prior to the deadline. It garnered two awards and became the phenomenon of the year.
among the 11 award winners, five were female filmmakers. Three female jurors sat on that year’s Jury Committee.
Youth Film section and Student Film section merged into one single competition secion. The number of awards was reduced to 10.
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.
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.
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.
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.