2024 Debut Narrative Feature Development Lab

The Mulan International Film Festival (MulanIFF) is proud to announce the launch of its inaugural Debut Narrative Feature Development Lab, scheduled to take place from August 12 to August 16, 2024, during the fifth edition of its annual festival. This initiative is designed to provide support to emerging directors of Chinese backgrounds who are preparing to embark on their debut narrative feature-length film in the Chinese language.

We aim to select up to five promising film projects. The successful applicants will be invited to attend the Lab in person, where they will receive feedback and one-on-one consultation from experienced Mentors. Additionally, they will attend masterclasses covering topics such as low-budget producing, financing, international co-producing, and festival strategies. They will also engage in networking events to foster connections and collaborations within the film industry.

The full list of Mentors and Guest Speakers will be announced in June.

Both online information sessions have finished. Click here to view the recording.



NAI An is an internationally celebrated producer. She graduated from the Central Academy of Drama, majoring in directing. She works as an independent film producer, and films she produced include Suzhou River (2000), Blind Massage (2014), and The Shadow Play (2018). She has served as a judge for the international competition at the Sundance Film Festival and the Young Cinema Competition at the Hong Kong International Film Festival. As an actress, NAI An was awarded Best Actress at the 65th Festival del Film Locarno with When Night Falls (2012).


Director, Executive Producer, Professor, and Initiator of A Film. His film Run Away was awarded at the Cinefondation selection of the 54th Cannes Film Festival. His feature Passages was the special mention winner of the Best First Feature (Golden Camera) Award at the 57th Cannes Film Festival. His feature Crosscurrent was in the main competition of the 66th Berlinale, and is the winner of the Silver Bear Award for Best Artistic Contribution, and was nominated for Best Director by the China Film Director’s Guild Awards. 

The Films he executive produced including Weed (WANG Liren, 2006), Female Directors (YANG Mingming, 2012), Girls Always Happy (YANG Mingming, 2016), Give Me A Ride (XU Zhenhao,2019), Seaweed (SHEN Chaofang, 2021), Love Found, Love Lost (LI Songming, 2021), Just An Alien (HUA Weicheng,2022) and Go Photo Shooting (NAN Xin,2023), that have been selected and awarded by film festivals at both domestic and international levels. 

YANG Chao has also served as a mentor and jury member at the Hannan Island International Film Festival, Hong Kong International Film Festival, Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival, Young Director Support Program by China Film Director’s Guild, FIRST International Film Festivals, and Falcon Project by Chinese Youth Film Week.

MEI Feng

Director, screenwriter, and professor at Beijing Film Academy. He has collaborated with director LOU Ye on works including Summer Palace, Mystery, and Spring Fever. He won the Best Screenplay at Cannes Film Festival in 2009 for Spring Fever. In 2016, he directed Mr. No Problem, which won him the Best Artistic Contribution Award at the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival. His second feature film is Love Song 1980 in 2020.

TAN Chui Mui

TAN Chui Mui was born in Kuantan, Malaysia. At the age of 5, TAN Chui Mui made a small wooden stool. At 8, she drove a pickup truck onto a column. At 9, she printed a children’s magazine. At 12, she finished reading an Encyclopedia. At 17, she had a column in a student weekly paper. At 21, she received a computer animation degree. At 27, she made her first film. At 38, she gave birth to a child. At 41, she decided to learn martial arts.

Her first feature film Love Conquers All (2006) won the New Currents Award and FIPRESCI Award at Busan, and the Tiger Award at IFFR. Her short film Everyday Everyday (2009) won the top prize at Clermont-Ferrand. In 2015, she initiated Next New Wave, providing young film talents in Malaysia with a platform to learn directly from renowned filmmakers in the region. In 2017, she started SeaShorts, a film festival showcasing Southeast Asian short films. Her recent film Barbarian Invasion (2021) won the Jury Grand Prix of Golden Goblet Awards at Shanghai. Her first art exhibition Just Because You Pressed the Shutter? (2022), which features a series of AI-generated images, won the Jimei x Arles Discovery Award, and was invited to exhibit at the Rencontres d’Arles International Photography Festival. Her second exhibition You Don’t Know What Love Is (2024) will be launched in France this June.


FENG Xi is a film editor based in Montreal, Canada. Having lived in China, Canada, and France, she has cultivated a unique blend of cultural and artistic sensitivity. Feng has worked as an editor on feature documentary films including China Heavyweight, Cette Maison, and Caiti Blues. The first fiction film she edited, Universal Language, premiered at Quinzaine des Cineastes at Cannes this year. Her filmography includes films selected and won at prestigious festivals such as Berlinale, Cannes, Sundance, Vision du Réel, HotDocs, and Art of the Reel. She also served as an editing mentor for multiple film festivals and is a Board Member for the Canadian Cinema Editors.

Pre-Selection Judges

BO Ruochen

BO Ruochen is a Ph.D. Candidate in Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto. In 2022-2023, she was a Hou Family Predoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. Her dissertation examines Edward YANG’s cinematic corpus in relation to philosophical concerns regarding the relationship between aesthetics and ethics. In 2017, New Mexico Girls Make Movies awarded her screenplay (short) first runner-up in their inaugural state-wide screenwriting competition. She is the Senior Programmer at Mulan International Film Festival and has been a member of the team since 2019.

Louis Zhou

Louis ZHOU

Louis ZHOU graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 2017 with a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, specializing in genre films. He currently works in the DMR department at IMAX Corp. Previously, he was the Senior Manager of Film Development and Production at Beijing Culture, where he participated in the development and production of all in-house film projects from 2016 to 2018. Notably, he was involved in the filming and post-production of Wolf Warrior 2 and served as a Co-Producer for The Wandering Earth. As the International Sales Manager at Beijing Blossoms Entertainment, he handled the international sales and distribution of films including The Eight Hundred, The Sacrifice, Warm Hug and The Yinyang Master, as well as over 50 Youku web films. Louis joined the Mulan International Film Festival in 2024 and is currently an Assistant Programmer.

LI Xiaoyuan

LI Xiaoyuan is a Chinese producer, committed to creating genre films with artistic and commercial integrity that are thought-provoking, relatable to the current audience, and marketable in the ever-changing landscape of contemporary Chinese cinema. His producing debut, The Water Murmurs (2022), won the Short Film Palme d’Or at the 75th Cannes Film Festival. He co-produced Love is a Gun (2023), which won the Lion of the Future Award at the 80th Venice International Film Festival. His other productions include Questions to Heaven (2023), awarded the Fei Mu Award for Best Short Film at the 7th Pingyao International Film Festival and selected by the 25th Shanghai International Film Festival.

Terms and Conditions

  1. Eligibility
    1. Primary applicant
      1. The primary applicant must be the sole director of the submitted film project.
      2. [UPDATED] The primary applicant must have completed at least one year of in-person post-secondary education in an accredited academic institution in North America or Europe.
      3. The primary applicant must be fluent in both Chinese and English.
      4. The primary applicant must have experience directing narrative short films.
      5. The primary applicant must not have directed a feature-length film, either narrative or documentary.
      6. If selected, the primary applicant must be able to travel to Canada to attend the Lab in person.
      7. The successful primary applicant will be required to attend all Lab activities. Failure to do so will result in removal from the Lab.
      8. In the event that the primary applicant cannot travel to Canada for reasons not classified as force majeure, their future applications will not be considered.
    2. Co-Applicant
      1. The co-applicant can either be a writer or a producer on the submitted film project.
      2. Having a co-applicant is optional and does not affect the final outcome of the application.
      3. Up to two co-applicants can be added to each application.
    3. The Film Project
      1. Only one film project per director is accepted.
      2. The project must be at its pre-production stage.
      3. The primary language of the project must be a Chinese language.
      4. The project is intended to be primarily shot in Mainland China.
      5. The project must be a narrative feature-length film, with an estimated runtime of 60 minutes or longer.
      6. The project must have a treatment and a complete first draft of the screenplay in Chinese.
      7. Having a producer attached to the project is not required and will not affect the final outcome of the application.
      8. Having secured financing for the project is not required and will not affect the final outcome of the application.
      9. The project has a budget of under CNY¥2,000,000 (or approximately CAD$375,000).
      10. The project is intended to have an appeal to a global audience.
  2. Timeline
    1. [UPDATED] Submission opens on April 15, 2024. The regular submission deadline is 11:59 PM EDT on May 24, 2024, and the late deadline is 11:59 PM EDT on May 31, 2024.
    2. Applicants may be invited to attend an online interview by June 3, 2024.
    3. Decisions are notified by June 10, 2024.
  3. How to Apply
    1. To apply, please go to: https://mulanfestival.com/lab-submission-2024/. This is the only official platform to apply.
    2. For a list of required information and materials, please see Appendix A below.
    3. Applicants are strongly encouraged to gather all required materials in advance and work on a separate Word document before completing the online application.
    4. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
    5. Once an application is submitted, the applicants cannot request to submit new or revised materials. If contact information changes, please notify us immediately via email: [email protected].
  4. Selection Process
    1. Within one week after submitting the application, the applicants will be notified via email regarding the completeness of their submitted materials and whether they have passed the eligibility review.
    2. The Artistic Director will appoint a Pre-Selection Committee consisting of two internal members from the current programming team and one external member from the film industry. The Pre-Selection Committee will review all applications that have passed the eligibility review and are deemed as complete, and invite selected applicants for an interview.
    3. Following the interview, pre-selection decisions will be made at the sole and absolute discretion of the Committee.
    4. The Mentors will review the shortlisted applications and final selection decisions will be made at their sole and absolute discretion.
  5. Special Considerations
    1. If the primary applicant’s short films have been previously selected to the Fountainhead Programme, the application fee will be waived. Please email [email protected] for waiver codes.
    2. If the primary applicant’s short films have been previously selected to the Fountainhead Programme, their application will receive priority.
    3. Transnational stories that have the potential to be partially shot in Canada will receive priority.
  6. Fees
    1. [UPDATED] The submission fee is CAD$80 for the regular deadline and CAD$90 for the late deadline. The submission fee is non-refundable under any circumstances.
    2. The primary applicant and co-applicants must cover their own travel expenses to/from Toronto, and any applicable visa application fees.
  7. Accommodations
    1. The primary applicant will be provided meals and hotel accommodations for the duration of the Lab (August 12-16, 2024).
    2. Up to one co-applicant will also be provided meals and hotel accommodations for the duration of the Lab (August 12-16, 2024), if they are willing to share a room with the primary applicant or another applicant on a different project.
  8. Copyrights and Public Release
    1. The primary applicant represents and warrants that they hold all the copyrights within and related to the submitted film project and materials, and have the authority to grant MulanIFF the rights to publicly announce and promote the submitted film project through media and all applicable channels. 
    2. Upon being selected, the primary applicant (and co-applicants, if applicable) grant MulanIFF the right to publicly announce and promote such involvement through media and any other channels. Such communications may include the primary applicant’s and co-applicant’s names and headshots, as well as the title of the film project, and a brief introduction.
    3. MulanIFF and its directors, members, officers, volunteers as well as invited mentors, advisors, and jury members will not be held responsible for the unauthorized use of any copyrighted materials within or related to the selected film project. MulanIFF reserves the right to disqualify any application with unauthorized copyrighted materials at any time.
  9. Acknowledgment
    1. If the selected film project is produced, Mulan International Film Festival will receive a screen credit in the end titles of the film, in the form of the written acknowledgement “This film received support from the Debut Narrative Feature Development Lab at the Mulan International Film Festival,” along with the Festival’s logo.
  10. Filmmaker Pass
    1. Once the application has passed the eligibility review, regardless of whether it is selected, the primary applicant and co-applicants are each granted an individual Filmmaker Pass. This Filmmaker Pass grants access to all the public screenings and events held during the Festival, subject to availability.
    2. If the primary applicant and co-applicants intend to take advantage of the Filmmaker Pass and will need to obtain a visa to travel to Canada, they are strongly encouraged to contact us immediately and apply early, as Canadian visa applications may take longer than usual to be processed.


For questions regarding submissions to the Development Lab, please email [email protected].

For press inquiries, please email [email protected].

Appendix A – List of Required Information and Materials

  1. Contact Information, including the Primary Applicant’s and Co-Applicants’.
  2. Short Biography, in both English (800 characters max) and Chinese (250 characters max), including the Primary Applicant’s and Co-Applicants’.
  3. Degree, Official Transcript, or Letter of Enrollment – in PDF format to be uploaded.
  4. Brief Introduction, in both English (500 characters max) and Chinese (200 characters max)
  5. Synopsis, in both English (1500 characters max) and Chinese (600 characters max)
  6. Treatment, in both English (3500 characters max) and Chinese (1500 characters max)
  7. Director’s Statement, in both English (3500 characters max) and Chinese (1500 characters max)
  8. Creative Statement, in both English (3500 characters max) and Chinese (1500 characters max)
  9. Full screenplay – must be in Chinese, in PDF format to be uploaded.
  10. Statement of Original Work – Confirm if the screenplay is the applicant(s)’s original work. If it is an adapted screenplay, please upload a letter of authorization from its copyright owner.
  11. Budget – please use the budget template provided and upload.
  12. Past directing work samples – please provide links to short films and include their title and runtime; they cannot be a director’s reel.
  13. Key Creative Personnel (optional) – please include the name, position, and a short biography of other key creative personnel, if any. The short biography should be in both English (800 characters max) and Chinese (250 characters max).
  14. Additional Materials (optional) – lookbook, pitch decks, etc., in one single PDF of no more than 20MB, to be uploaded.
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