June 19 -- THIS month Shanghai is probably the most exciting place in China -- politically with the just-concluded Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, and culturally for the 9th Shanghai International Film Festival, which just kicked off on Saturday.
Right before the opening of the annual filmfest, a celebrity party was held at the famous TV personality and cosmetics queen Yue-Sai Kan's home which many guests of the event attended, including Andie MacDowell, Hiroyuki Sanada, Natasha Richardson, Liam Nesson and Sigourney Weaver.
Weaver, 56, who starred in "Alien," "Gorillas in the Mist" and Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm" and two-time Oscar best actress nominee, has had her new film "Snow Cake" listed as "Panorama Film" to be exhibited during the festival.
Weaver says she's very much interested in Chinese films. "I've watched the films of Ang Lee, Wong Kar-wai, Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. They each have their own style," she said.
In her own opinion, Weaver prefers Wong, but she hopes to watch more films of different Chinese directors. The 1.82-meter-tall Hollywood actress was the classmate of Meryl Streep at the Yale School of Drama.
On her first trip to China, Weaver hopes to take some days off, have a tour and do some shopping in the city with her husband, Jim Simpson, a theater director.
Over the glitzy weekend, superstar Nicole Kidman also arrived in the city though not for the film festival. The Australian beauty and Oscar winner was here for a promotional event - as ambassador for Omega's new watch, Constellation Iris.
Also on her first trip to China, Kidman kept her schedule tight. In a long black-and-gray dress, along with her trademark elegant smile, Kidman kept smiling to the people at the press conference and showed no signs of jetlag.
"They asked me where I wanted to go next year after I visited Tokyo as Omega's ambassador last year," Kidman recalled. "I said 'China.' It's wonderful to be here and it's a big day for me."
Although she always appears on the screen as being elegant and strong-willed, Kidman revealed that she has confronted many difficulties in real life and she's constantly surprised that she has managed to overcome these challenges, whether in life or on the silver screen.
Besides acting, Kidman enjoys writing too. "I'm not going to publish anything. They are for my own consumption. Writing is part of my creativity," she said. "There is no comparison between acting and writing. Acting is my work."
Kidman's Shanghai trip was not purely for commercial purposes, she also had the opportunity to present another of her roles, that of Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
The actress revealed that it was her mother who switched her on to this cause. "I suppose that the reason for my commitment to dealing with women's rights is that my mother strongly supported this project when I was young," she explained.
The actress could not conceal her excitement at being in this city which she has been expecting to visit for a long time. Kidman is scheduled to act in director Wong's new film, "The Lady from Shanghai." Perhaps the trip will provide her with some useful inspirations.
By Wu Yingying