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PRODUCTION Germany / China

Bridging the Dragon set to bring Europe and China closer


- A co-production treaty between Germany and China may be signed next year

Bridging the Dragon set to bring Europe and China closer
Nansun Shi and Martin Moszkowicz at the Bridging the Dragon panel

Collaboration between European and Chinese film professionals was the key issue at the Bridging the Dragon panel at the Berlinale, which was co-hosted by the European Film Market. “America is not the rule maker anymore,” stated Stefan Arndt, a producer at Berlin-based X Filme Creative Pool. “It is important for you to have an idea that fits in with your partner.” In his case, after long negotiations and spending €500,000 on lawyers, his partner did not agree and pulled out of the project shortly before principal photography started. But this could happen anywhere. “We make movies in every part of the world. If somebody drops out, that’s terrible,” commented Martin Moszkowicz, chairman of Constantin Film. “In China, we don’t know what the boundaries are.” 

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“The best thing is to find a reliable partner,” stressed Nansun Shi, of Distribution Workshop in China. “If you shoot in China, you get a permit, but your film won’t automatically be distributed.” There is a quota for the importing of foreign films in the country: about 20 US movies and three or four European titles are released there every year. “This quota is already used up by StudioCanal and Constantin,” said Moszkowicz, who considers a co-production treaty between Germany and China as a win-win situation for both countries. “A treaty would give Chinese filmmakers access to film funds in Europe. That would be very helpful on a production level.”

“It is trendy to go to Europe because Chinese filmmakers like exotic locations,” stated Nansun Shi. “Chinese movies need good scripts; talents don’t grow on trees.” According to her, the Chinese film industry has a lack of editors, visual-effects experts and composers. The result is that many filmmakers work with the same editor. “The development process in China and Germany is very different from the one in Hollywood,” emphasised the Constantin chairman. “Companies are not used to a writers' room; we only have that in industrial TV production.”

“There should be more bridges to bridge the dragon. A co-production is only one of them,” concluded Jeffrey Chan, of Bona Film Group. This opportunity could already happen in the near future: “There are signs that the German-Chinese co-production treaty will be signed next year,” asserted Kirsten Niehuus, managing director of the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.

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