Berlin 2018 - Market
Industry Report: Paul Brett • Producer, Flying Tiger
The fourth Bridging the Dragon Sino-European days draw to a close in Berlin
- Bridging the Dragon co-hosted a series of activities with the EFM, aimed at connecting the European and Chinese film markets
For the fourth year, Bridging the Dragon – which recently closed a partnership with ACE Producers, EAVE – Ties That Bind and EUFCN (the European Film Commission Network) – co-hosted a series of activities with the European Film Market, aimed at connecting the European and Chinese film markets.
This year, the programme was particularly rich and spanned the whole second week of the EFM. At the Production Seminar held on 21 February, Chinese experts such as Manfred Wong (vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Film Awards and a renowned producer), Chen Lizhi (CEO, Spire Media) and Miao Xiaotian (president of the China Film Co-Production Corporation) introduced recent developments in the Chinese film industry to the Western audience.
Over the last year, the box office has continued to increase, reaching unprecedented heights. Some examples are last summer’s action-epic Wolf Warrior II ($870 million), and the outstanding performances of recent spring holiday releases, such as the family fantasy film Monster Hunt II (Berlinale Special Gala, $320 million so far), Operation Red Sea ($340 million so far) and Detective China Town II ($430 million so far).
But it was also a year that saw Chinese success for the independent Spanish thriller The Invisible Guest [+see also:
film profile], which grossed an impressive $25 million, resulting in a new degree of confidence in the import of European films (sales to China at the Berlinale’s market soared). There was also much appreciation of the epic drama Youth, definitely the most sophisticated picture by director Feng Xiaogang. With more than 50,000 screens and a rapidly developing society, China is showing more and more curiosity for different genres, including the local arthouse scene, which continues to grow in terms of quality and interest from the public.
This is having an impact on the rising number of co-productions following the treaties signed between China and various countries, including more and more European ones. The challenge is now how to merge content between the two film worlds and boost the level of collaboration.
To this end, the annual Bridging the Dragon Sino-European Project Lab was also part of the week’s activities. After the first session held during the Shanghai International Film Festival last June, the representatives of the 12 co-production film projects selected from Europe and China met once again with tutors and producers from both sides in order to further develop their stories and expand professional relationships among the participants.
The lab included acclaimed writers such as Philip LaZebnik (animation classics Pocahontas, Mulan and The Prince of Egypt) and Gu Xiaobai (films like The Red Awn, which won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 12th Busan International Film Festival, and People Mountain People Sea, winner of the Silver Lion at the 68th Venice Film Festival), plus an array of production tutors from both sides, including Chow Keung (who has more than 30 features under his belt, including Jia Zhangke's Still Life - Golden Lion at Venice 2006); Mandy Rahn, manager of International Productions at ARRI; Jean-Yves Roubin, Frakas Productions, Belgium; Gao Qun, CEO of WD Pictures and former VP of Shanghai New Culture Media Group (Jackie Chan's Skiptrace, successful action flicks like Saving Mr. Wu, and Stephen Chow's Journey to the West); Philippe Bober, Coproduction Office, France; Carlo Brancaleoni, Italy’s RAI Cinema; and Laurence Clerc, Alcatraz Films, France.
As part of these week-long activities, a delegation representing the Chinese film authorities came from China to attend official meetings with the BKM (Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media) and the main representatives of the German film industry. Both sides agreed to take further steps to conclude the German-Chinese film co-coproduction treaty and to enable a more intensive form of cooperation between the two industries.
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