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BERLINALE 2023 EFM

Bridging the Dragon explora las oportunidades del mercado cinematográfico asiático

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- BERLINALE 2023: La conferencia anual organizada en el EFM se centró en lo que podemos esperar de la cooperación euroasiática después de la pandemia

Bridging the Dragon explora las oportunidades del mercado cinematográfico asiático
Un momento de la conferencia

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

On 19 February,the producers’ association Bridging the Dragon, in collaboration with the European Film Market (EFM), held its annual panel. For the first time, the event included a wider angle from which to delve into the triangular synergies between Europe, China and other regions of Far-East Asia.

After two years of struggles, the Chinese film industry is quickly recovering. The spring holiday period demonstrated the penchant of the local audience for movies with very strong box-office performance, and this allows us to predict that the market may become stronger than it was before. The Berlinale also shows signs of this vitality, with six Chinese features premiering at the German gathering, including two in competition – the largest selection of Chinese films at the festival to date. Meanwhile, other Asian regions have developed their own vibrant audiovisual industries, which are now, for the first time, looking beyond their internal market.

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With specialists hailing from Europe and different Asian regions, the panel “Moving East: Prospects for Collaboration between Europe, China and Far-East Asia” featured a thought-provoking discussion on the potential for Euro-Asian collaboration, also addressing the unique conditions in each individual region.

Eunjung Yoo, CEO of and producer at Korean company BlessU Pictures, shared her observations on the expansion of Korean content in the global market based on her international co-production experience. “Everyone wants the next Parasite or Squid Game,” she said, “and that's now how Korean talents go global and we follow them. This is the spark for our internationalisation. On the other hand, with the success of Korean blockbusters in recent years, more and more filmmakers are seeking a chance to work with our country.”

Yoo believes that co-production, or any form of collaboration, can indeed be a source of new inspiration, yet one needs to note that it is an ongoing process that will require time. It may be hard for the Korean audience to accept exotic content, and in the early stages, collaboration with the European film industry is still proving easier on arthouse movies. On the other hand, there are strong opportunities for collaboration between different Asian regions, as shown by the constant exchange of IPs between Korea, Japan and China.

The importance of the talents in international co-production was echoed by Patrick Huang, founder of and producer at Taiwanese company Flash Forward Entertainment (with operations also in Mainland China). Until now, there haven’t been many successful cases of Chinese-language films with a big international impact, and the local industry is still relying mainly on the domestic market. One of the reasons for this is that Chinese talents are not well known enough to Western audiences. In this sense, the streamers could play a very important role by promoting Asian stars on the global market.

Carles Montiel, director of the Film division of Spanish group Mediapro Studio, which was recently acquired by a Chinese fund, pointed out that the pandemic has naturally created many obstacles to co-production. With the abandonment of the zero-COVID policy in China, collaboration between Europe and China should resume, and the group is now actively exploring all kinds of content that could link the two worlds.

The head of International Operations at renowned Japanese animation studio Production IG (the Ghost in the Shell franchise), Italian-born Francesco Prandoni, reminded producers to “do their research first” before attempting to work with Japan, the world’s third-largest box-office market. Like in Korea, film projects in Japan are still mostly privately financed, but they tend to be even more local. Animation is, of course, one of the most viable genres, but the several studios still work within their own internal circle, and each one has a very unique personality. Hence the need, when looking for a partner, to identify precisely the right one. “You can’t have a children’s song by a heavy-metal band; you have to know exactly what the style of the partner you are looking for is.” An interesting characteristic is that even within the country, studios often collaborate with each other in order to share the risk. This custom could potentially lead to the start of a new era working with international partners.

In conclusion, all of the speakers were aware of the fact that various cultural and business elements still keep Asia and the West apart to a certain extent, but they see exciting possibilities for collaboration in the post-pandemic era.

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(Traducción del inglés)

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