French film fest offers gateway to China market
Updated: 2013-05-24 09:36
By Li Xiang in Cannes (China Daily)
The ongoing Cannes Film Festival is not just about filmmakers promoting their new works and the flash of paparazzi chasing after movie stars.
The commission is keen on promoting co-productions between France and China as it sees the huge potential in China's film industry, which is based on a market that is expected to surpass the United States' by 2020 in box office.
China's fascinating growth story and its multi-faceted society have inspired French filmmakers, who have started to put China and Chinese elements in their screenplays, says Franck Priot, the chief operating officer of Film France.
"Anything that has to do with China carries an aura of excitement," he says.
France is the first foreign country that co-produced films with China. The first Sino-French film, The Kite, was directed by Chinese director Wang Jiayi and his French colleague Roger Pigaut and was screened in 1958.
But the cooperation did not really blossom until 2010, when governments of both countries signed a strategic agreement.
In order to attract more foreign producers and filmmakers with more incentives to come to the country, the French government decided in 2009 to offer a 20-percent tax rebate for foreign film and TV productions in the country, according to Priot.
Since 2010, seven films co-produced by China and France have been approved by the Chinese authorities. French director Jean-Jacques Annaud's adaptation of Chinese writer Jiang Rong' novel Wolf Totem has also been submitted for approval, according to figures from the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai's Eleven Flowers was the most recent successful case of a Sino-French film co-production.
China is being viewed as a source of investment for film production as financing is getting harder to secure in Western markets. Meanwhile, co-production is also seen as a method for foreign producers to make their way into the Chinese market and to avoid the country's quota for importing foreign movies, which has been upped from 20 to 34.
Noel Garino, a technical and artistic adviser to the Chinese Film Festival in France, says that a subject and a script with universal values, whether it's a romantic comedy or a drama, that could appeal to both Chinese and French audiences is essential for co-production success and potential export.
"At present, most co-produced films by China and France are art movies and are not blockbuster or mainstream ones. We have to go forward and produce movies that appeal to a larger audience," Garino says.
"China is not short of money but talent and professionals," says Tess Liu, who runs a film producing company named Zora Media Co Ltd in Beijing. Liu is in Cannes looking for a French producer and director for her new script, a story that takes place in both China and France.
"What we need most from the French is their technical skills and professional experience in film production," she says.