Bridging the Dragon and EFM's 3rd Sino-European Production Seminar a great success
- European producers setting their sights on China got together in Berlin to discuss the challenges of this difficult yet promising market
Bridging the Dragon, the Berlin-based association linking the European and Chinese film industries, and the European Film Market (EFM) presented the third Sino-European Production Seminar on Wednesday 15 February. As director of the EFM Matthijs Wouter Knol and director of the association Cristiano Bortone reminded attendees at the start of the day, this has now become an annual appointment to help European producers who are setting their sights on China to understand the challenges of this difficult yet promising market.
The first panel, moderated by Patrick Frater from Variety and co-hosted by the Chinese Film Market, offered an update on the local market. Producer Shan Dongbing reminded those present how a large part of movie-goers are still not ready for more sophisticated films, but things are developing rapidly in Chinese society. This is the reason why the recent slowdown at the box office actually offered an opportunity to re-evaluate the importance of quality and to look west for talents. Wang Yu, publisher of the Chinese Film Market and producer of arthouse films like last year’s Berlinale title Crosscurrent, agreed, explaining that the import quota of foreign films had already reached a peak this year and would continue to increase. With the incredible growth of the market, there are simply not enough writers, directors or talents. This represents an important opportunity for Europeans and co-productions.
The second panel, co-hosted with AFTP (Asian Film and Television Promotion), focused on the challenges of casting Chinese actors for co-productions. Poping Auyeung has for years been casting Chinese roles for most Hollywood studios and still struggles today to find enough English-speaking actors from China. But Jerry Ye, CEO of the Huayi Brothers studio, insisted on how important it is to choose a main market for a film. If this main market is China, then the language of the movie should be Chinese. But things could also change rapidly in this field as well. The Chinese audience is already used to local Chinese subtitling, and for this reason, it might eventually be ready to accept more foreign-language films as long as the stories are strong and compelling. Well-known talent agent Jessica Chen, a veteran in this market, said that, when suggesting some of her clients, she tries to highlight to the producers not their web popularity – a very common practice in China – but their acting skills. A good movie is built on its talents.
During the second part of the day, participants joined round-table discussions where, after being assigned to tables with a Chinese expert and a specific theme, they had the opportunity to discuss their projects with China in more detail. The attendees comprised producers from several European companies, such as N279 Entertainment (the Netherlands), Action Concept (Germany), Globalgate (UK), Anima (Finland), Dauphine Film (Italy), Rise Pictures (Germany) and Rexin Film (Germany).
More information about Bridging the Dragon and the seminar can be found here.