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Directors gathered for the Sino-Foreign Film Co-production Frum at BJIFF. [Photo: china.org.cn]
At a forum held in Beijing on Tuesday, China's top film officials, international executives and filmmakers, including "Titanic" director James Cameron, have agreed to explore the Chinese film market's potential through co-productions.
The film elite attended the Sino-Foreign Film Co-production Forum at the China National Film Museum, a high profile event, organized by the second Beijing International Film Festival committee.
"The Chinese film industry has entered a golden era," said Tong Gang, Head of the Movie Bureau at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, "Many China's government departments' encouraging policies and society's attention will push the industry forward."
"In 2003, we had less than 2,000 screens, now we have 10,000. In 2003, our box office gross was just 1 billion yuan, last year we got to 13 billion. This positive trend keeps on going and indicates a bright future for the film industry, even more so paired with China's fast growing economy. Besides, the hi-tech technologies, such as those which Mr. Cameron used to create 'Avatar', will give the film industry new wings to fly with."
Tong believed Chinese film's potential is huge, as more cinemas are being built, the Chinese audience is very large, with a nation of 1.3 billion people and infrastructure is solid.
"With a 5,000-year-long history, China has an abundant source of stories, which I believe can be well received by the global audience after proper development," Tong said, adding that China also possesses other advantages, including the country's vast territory and breathtaking landscapes for scenery shooting, as well as excellent facilities, cheap manpower, cheap costs and talents.
Tong Gang said a good co-production should be a win-win result. "The co-productions should have Chinese elements and a world vision, and at the same time can pass the tests of time and be loved by audiences. Then Chinese stories as well can be accepted by global audiences."
James Cameron also was invited to the festival to speak during the forum, saying his films like "Titanic" were some kind of co-production and his team has been taking crew members from many different countries, shooting scenes around the globe, and finally producing films that were huge box office successes in various parts of the world.
"'Titanic' was shot in Mexico, so there were very little American components to the film," Cameron said, "It was a film made for a global audience and it was received well around the world. About two thirds of its revenues,for its initial release, were international revenues. It transcended language and culture and adopted the universal human emotions of love, sacrifice and loss. It touched audiences around the world and it touched the audience here in China."
The Canadian director said China has a huge market, with its film industry growing rapidly, and he hopes to be involved in that development.
"China is only getting started. There are 10,000 screens now, you are adding 8 screens a day, so there would be another 2,500 screens probably by the end of this year," Cameron did the math, "Relative to the population, and the economic growth, this is only the beginning. "
James Cameron said he would take two different approaches as he has two roles, one as filmmaker and the other as a 3D technology provider. He believes "3D is the future of the cinema and broadcasting" and the Chinese audiences want 3D.
Cameron said his mission here was not only attend the festival but also explore ideas of co-production. He said as filmmaker himself he is looking at whether the prodution facilities in China make sense to shoot a part of the "Avatar" sequels, whether the numbers would make sense and whether content requirements and restrictions can be balanced out.
He said he couldn't answer the questions just yet and needed more meetings and investigations, but meanwhile added that he is certain that there is a much more inviting environment now in China as the Chinese market is opening up and rules of co-productions are being relaxed. In addition to those, revenue sharing models for foreign films are changing and become more attractive. This is part of his reason to attend the festival: to learn more.
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