Hollywood stars at Shanghai fest
Susan Sarandon cracked jokes with Chinese actor Zhang Guoli and Matt Dillon tried out his Mandarin as they attended the latest Shanghai Film Festival.
Hollywood's elite joined China's biggest stars at the Shanghai Grand Theatre to usher in the 14th edition of the country's leading international film festival at the weekend in a sign of respect for what is fast becoming one of the American movie industry's key foreign markets.
Last year, the James Cameron 3D sci-fi epic Avatar - distributed by the Hollywood studio Fox - brought in 204 million dollars as it became China's top-grossing release in history.
Keen to gain exposure in this blossoming market, American stars were well-represented at the opening ceremony in Shanghai's eastern financial centre.
It was Susan Sarandon's first visit to China, and after receiving a lifetime achievement award from festival organisers, she jokingly asked veteran actor Zhang to give her acceptance speech on her behalf.
The Thelma and Louise star then invited Zhang to a game of table tennis. Sarandon owns several table tennis clubs and bars in the US. "Maybe he'll play ping pong with me if we open one in Shanghai. And that would be a good excuse to come back to China," she said.
Zhang stood up and obliged and joked that he was an ace player.
"My acting is much better than my ping pong. Maybe you can wear a blindfold," Sarandon responded.
Earlier, Matt Dillon stumbled through the Chinese greeting "Shanghai Film Festival: Here I am" on the red carpet and then thanked fans for braving the heavy rain.