Youth, director Feng Xiaogang's latest coming-of-age drama, premiered in Beijing on Wednesday, a week ahead of its nationwide release on December 15.
According to reports, the 136-minute film remains unchanged from the version that was shown at several pre-screening events.
Youth was originally set to debut throughout the Chinese mainland on September 29, but was suddenly delayed only a few days before its premiere date. With no explanation given by the studio, rumors ran rampant, with many speculating that since the film touches upon sensitive topics like the Vietnam War and contains scenes of blood and violence, it may not have passed review by China's media watchdog - the State Administration of Press, Publishing, Radio, Film and Television.
Youth later served as the opening film at the Pingyao International Film Festival on October 28, but its new release date was not announced until November 20.
Adapted from the book Fang Hua by Yan Geling, the film chronicles the lives of a group of young Chinese from the 1970s through to the 1990s as they take part in an PLA song and dance ensemble. The film currently has a 7.6/10 on Douban from 3,824 reviewers.
While the majority of today's Chinese filmgoers are in their 20s and early 30s, the 59-year-old director said at the premiere that he feels this is not because older groups closer to his age dislike films, but rather is due to "the fact that there are no films for them [in theaters]."
"Few filmmakers produce such works. So, here comes Youth," Feng said.
The premiere was held in the Beijing Exhibition Theater, which has a capacity of more than 2,000 seats.
"Some 50 years ago, I sat in this same theater watching shows and films. Fifty years later, I have now returned to this temple of art with the Youth cast. This is the cradle that inspired my artistic creations," Feng added.
"I was deeply moved," said Fan Wei, the 55-year-old Golden Horse-winning actor, who was among a group of actors and directors attending the premiere.
"The film is very much like the personality of the director: Honest with deep love. I believe not only people my age will be moved, so will younger audiences."
A fan of Feng's films, Zhao, a female audience member born in 1985, said that she had been looking forward to Youth but worried that the film wouldn't fare well since the story takes place in the past and is very sentimental.
"People of my age are not very familiar with that part of history and might feel it's too chunky," Zhao said.
Not everyone gave a thumbs up to Youth. One viewer who wished to remain anonymous said that he thinks the film put too much emphasis on feelings than telling a complete story, which could be disappointing for those who read the original book.