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CANNES 2017 Industry

Cannes focuses on the new growth of opportunities in Chinese arthouse film


- CANNES 2017: The China Day in Cannes, held on 19 May, was a success in terms of content and attendance

Cannes focuses on the new growth of opportunities in Chinese arthouse film

The China Day, organized by the CNC, the Cannes Film Market and Bridging the Dragon in collaboration with the Festival du cinema Chinois en France (FCCF), was once more a very successful event, a sign of how the growing Chinese market is becoming relevant to many European professionals.

The rich programme started in the morning of Friday 19 May with two panels exploring from different angles the new development of Chinese arthouse cinema. After many years in which the interest was concentrated only on commercial movies and on a purely financial approach to film production, the local market is starting to demand more quality films and a new generation of filmmakers is emerging.

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The panellists analized this phenomenon from the point of view of daring producers like Cheng Yang, (Have a Nice Day - Berlinale competition 2017), Wen Song founder of FIRST, the Chinese film festival focusing on new talents, Li Ruijun, director of Walking Past the Future, in this year’s Un Certain Regard, financiers like Wei Lu that through social media and online platforms raised funds for such big productions like The Monkey King. Ming Xiang, deputy director general of the market leader ticketing platform Weying Technology and founding member of Alliance of Arthouse Cinema explained how on line ticket sale can benefit artistic movies as it can directly reach specific niches of public; Gary Mak, director of the cinema chain Broadway Cinematheque reported on the growth of a young public interested in more special movies; Yu-Fai Suen, managing director of Pinewood Pictures, explained the plans of Pinewood to contribute to the funding of movies coproduced between China and Europe.

Li Ruijun said, “When I started making films a few years ago, it was very difficult to find the funding. Sometime I had to look for money myself or making the films with very low budgets. Now in the last few years the situation changed completely and there is more and more resources available for independent movies."

Cheng Yang said, “The Chinese market is finally starting to be more and more diversified in terms of genres. This is creating all sorts of new opportunities for the arthouse film market. I think that the producers, that before saw such films only as way of buying their way into the business at very low costs, are now considering artistic films to have a new and promising potential.” 

Lu Wei said, “Our crowfunding activities proved to be terrific in terms of raising funding but also creating a affectioned audience. After someone feels he or she is a small investor into a movie is very committed to follow the performance of the picture and involving as many people as possible into making it successful.”

Ming Xiang said, “We can use technology to make arthouse films enter every door of Chinese families. And the interactive discussion offered by social media are now creating a new fast and powerful way of promoting movies at a lower cost."

Gary Mak added, “Until some time ago it was very difficult to push arthouse films into the theaters. But now thanks to the new Alliance that was created among a group of players, we can rely to a good chain of cinemas that can guarantee to these titles a good number of screens all over the country.” 

Claude Eric-Poiroux, from Europa Cinemas, added "The lesson that we learned in Europe is that arthouse films can help express and defend the identity of a country. This is an important lesson to always keep in mind.”

After the panel, Bridging the dragon announced two new co-productions with China, the animation feature Dragonkeeper (Spain) and the spectacular feature documentary Colours of China (Germany, New Zealand), together with the programme of Bridging the Dragon’s upcoming Sino-European Project Lab that will take place in June before the Shanghai Film Festival in the city of Nanjing in collaboration with One More Pictures and ARRI

In the afternoon the company meetings event matched a selection of 40 international companies with as many Chinese counterparts. Market leaders like Jackie Chan’s Sparkle Roll Media, Wanda Pictures, Weying Technology, Dadi Century, next to new and promising names like Spire Media, Road Pictures, WD Pictures were paired with a rich array of international companies such as SF Studios (Denmark), Les Films du Lendemain (FR), K5 Media Group (Germany), Brio Films (France), Idéale Audience (France), Road Side Attractions (USA), N279 Entertainment (Netherlands), Vaca Films (Spain).

Judging from the attendance of the event and from this year’s general presence of Chinese companies at the market, the China mission that in the beginning seemed to be a “long march” is apparently becoming more and more a reality.

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