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BRIDGING THE DRAGON 2019

Stephanie Schettler-Köhler • Managing director, Pantaleon Films

"The best way to bridge gaps is to meet people in person, compare experiences and talk openly about issues"

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- Bridging the Dragon caught up with Stephanie Schettler-Köhler, managing director of Pantaleon Films, to chat about the ever-evolving Chinese market

Stephanie Schettler-Köhler  • Managing director, Pantaleon Films
(© Pantaleon Films)

Bridging the Dragon caught up with Stephanie Schettler-Köhler, managing director of prestigious German outfit Pantaleon Films, who was recently in Beijing after being selected as part of the delegation of the German film industry to China. This trip was organised in collaboration with the German Federal Film Board (FFA), Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and Film and Television Fund Bavaria (FFF Bayern).

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Bridging the Dragon: Is this your first time in China? Do you have any experience of working with China before?
Stephanie Schettler-Köhler: As a company, we have some experience in working with Chinese companies. For example, we were able to license the Chinese remake rights to our cinematic success The Most Beautiful Day [+see also:
trailer
making of
film profile
]
and are currently in talks about the Chinese remake rights to our movie 100 Things [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
.

How was your experience in Beijing as part of the delegation?
It really was an immensely impactful journey, and I’d like to use this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to the FFF Bayern for inviting me. The trip gave me an excellent insight into the Chinese film market. We were invited by various different companies and institutions, and were able to form strong bonds for possible future collaborations. In addition, it also helped me to understand much better what kind of content could be of interest to the Chinese market and what expectations Chinese producers have of a German partner.

What are the most interesting or surprising things you have learnt about the Chinese market which you would like to share with your European counterparts?
Naturally, I was aware of the sheer enormity of the Chinese market even before the trip, but actually being there really brought home the scale of the potential as far as audience and screen numbers are concerned. Box-office revenues of US $7.39 billion and over 66,000 screens across the entire country – these figures are certainly very impressive.

Moreover, I was surprised by the way China defines “arthouse”. We were invited to the Chinese Film Archive, the co-founder of the China Art House Film Alliance, which screens movies such as Bohemian Rhapsody [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and labels them as arthouse films.

What do you think about European-Chinese collaborations in the future? Are there any possible grounds for co-operation?
I believe there is certainly potential for collaboration between China and Europe in the future, as several productions have already been carried out, not least with the help of Bridging the Dragon. Pantaleon will certainly follow up on the interest in IP from Europe. Additionally, given that the potential is so high, we’re already in the process of coming up with ideas for movies and series for the Chinese market.

What are the challenges, in your opinion?
There are cultural differences to consider, for sure. I strongly believe that the best way to bridge gaps is to meet people in person, compare experiences and talk openly about issues, should they arise. Establishing a foundation based on mutual trust can certainly be a lengthy, but also a very rewarding, process.

To us as Europeans, China’s policies for the import of foreign content and the China Film Co-Production Corporation’s (CFCC’s) guidelines concerning content and economic specifications aren’t routine by any means, which can create certain challenges to overcome.

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