One of the major forums of the 9th BJIFF-- China-India Film Co-Production Dialogue was successfully hosted at Beijing Palace, Beijing Hotel on 18th Apr. Both China and India enjoy the fame as one of the Four Great Ancient Civilizations and the cultural communication between the two has long been a spiritual connection. The massive film markets of the two countries have a promising prospect and the industries are at their momentum. Then the cineaste celebrities had a chance to gather together to exchange experiences and talk from various perspectives about industrial cooperation in the future.
Traditional partners' meet in Beijing as productive film producers.
China-India Film Co-Production Dialogue of 9th BJIFF was held as scheduled at Beijing Palace, Beijing Hotel on 18th Apr. 2019. Du Feijin, Member of the Standing Committee and Director of the Publicity Department of Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China; Chen Mingjie, Deputy Director of the Publicity Department of Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China and Director-General of the Beijing Film Administration; Director-General Yang Shuo and Deputy Director-General Wang Zhi of the Beijing Municipal Radio and Television Bureau attended the forum.
As the most productive filmmaker, India produces up to 2000 films a year. There are several integrated film studios in India. The most representative and influential one is Bollywood in Mumbai, which is famous for its popular comedies, musical films, and action films.
In recent years, Bollywood has been trying to seek change and challenge and many entertaining masterpieces conveying reality and artistry have been released. Three Idiots criticizes the rigid education system that give overwhelming pressure to students; Hindi Medium reveals the pain point of school choice; My Name Is Khan describes Hindu students unfairly treated in US; Bajrangi Bhaijaan tells the political and religious conflicts between India and Pakistan.
China’s film market have hug potential value. In the past 10 years, China’s film industry have developed at a high speed and presently over 60 thousand cinema screens rank No.1 around world. A box office of 60 billion yuan of last year makes China only next to America the biggest film market in the world. The improvement in quality has made Chinese film not only performance well in box office but also win the praise from audience. Some of the works even collected over 2 billion yuan.
The two potential film powers can learn from each other to improve their own industries. As the cultural communication of film between China and India processes deeper and more intensively, both sides are enthusiastically seeking cooperation in film industry. During the 9th BJIFF, Indian Film Week received various attention and China-India Film Co-Production Dialogue is the most important event of Indian Film Week and one of the 6 major forums of the 9th BJIFF.
Famous Indian actor and producer, “King of Bollywood” Shah Rukh Khan and the director and writer of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Kabir Khan were invited to the forum. And Chinese attendees include the director of Dying to Survive，Wen Muye, the chairman of Beijing Wentou Group, Zhou Maofei, manager of China Film Co-Production Corporation, Miao Xiaotian, doctor of Drama Department, Communication University of China, Yu Qiuyang. Through the forum, the cineaste of both countries focused on potential cooperation in film, exchanged experience in producing excellent work and talked about the future co-development in the industry.
Diverse oriental cultures gather to exchange creation experience.
The guests are outstanding film producer, writer, and director, etc. And they are experienced in co-production.
As the manager of China Film Co-Production Corporation which majors in management, coordination, and service of film co-production, Miao Xiaotian made a comment first. He argued that co-production had become a trend of which the most important part was to integrate international resources. And he implied that the purpose of co-production was not to promote Chinese film in international market, but to improve the quality of film.
Chairman of Beijing Wentou Group, Zhou Maofei had cooperated with India partners before the production of Kung Fu Yoga, Jackie Chan’s new action-adventure comedy film. Filming in India absorbed traditional Indian cultural elements and national custom into the story.
Zhou told that the co-production between China and India had a commercial foundation and cultural advantage. Both sides have rich historical cultural deposition and massive promising film market. The prospect of cooperation is hopeful. He expressed that he would positively and unswervingly support the co-production between China and India.
Last year, comedy-drama film Dying to Survive grossed 3.1 billion yuan and won a high reputation, some of the filming took place in India. The director Wen Muye talked his perspective about co-production. He proposed three functions of his film, entertainment, sociality, and guidance and considered that many Chinese realistic films did not well integrate the three so their box office performance were not satisfactory.
The international success of Indian films in recent years is obvious. Indian films are also competitive in domestic market under the predation of Hollywood films which can hardly threaten local film in India.
Indian national actor Shah Rukh Khan is not only famous domestically but also has international influence. He has starred many classic films such as Asoka and Devdas. He spoke of that art itself was the presentation of cooperation, and participants should respect the resources and markets of each other to overcome obstacles. The purpose of co-production must be made clear at first that whether it was out of commercial interest or serious concern.
From his perspective, different films have something in common and he himself has been influenced by Chinese films. “Despite the difference of languages, our cultures have similarities,” he said, “We have accumulated generous historical cultural tradition rooted in our heart since childhood. What we need to do is to extract.”
Another Indian guest, director and writer Kabir Khan shared his experience of his film career. He mentioned starcentrism in the past and directors had turn to be center in the last decade. Producer and actors trust director, which has promoted the transformation of film industry. Popular actors cooperate with director to produce welcomed work meeting audience’s expectation.
Many successful Indian films are based on excellent Indian literature. Bajrangi Bhaijaan originates from a romance novel published in 1917. The work has a great influence in Indian literature and has been adapted several times upon cinema screen. And Baahubali series are based on stories in epics Mahabharata and Rāmāyaṇa.
Of course what resonates with Chinese audience most are realistic films. Like Dangal was inspired from a piece of newspaper coverage. Kabir Khan emphasizes the importance of a good story. It is necessary because a good story is welcomed regardless where it is told. He said, “ Choose an appropriate presentation of the story and the film will be popular both in China and India.”
Asian cineastes seek international cooperation to progress together.
The topic returned to discussion about theme and direction of co-production of China and India. China has stated co-productions with Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, etc. The communication between China and India has been ongoing for several years, and both sides have tried to absorb the other’s cultural element into their films. But there has not been a co-production scheduled. So the guest profoundly discussed about how to find a theme fit for co-production between two sides.
Miao Xiaotian said that it was always hart to make the first step. And what we want is not a simple co-production film, but an excellent work. So the film makers of both sides need to make more contact and communication in order to facilitate a successful cooperation.
Kabir Khan has a fresh feeling about co-production film by two directors from different country from the perspective of creation. He thinks it’s possible to converge two narratives of two directors into a integrated one. “It sounds interesting.” he said.
Wen Muye also confirmed the feasibility of collaboration and emphasized a perfect expression of a story laid in a culture the teller was familiar with. To direct a strange cultural content need long-term communication and even to experience it in body. If successive narrative is not satisfactory, then try to converge them after understanding.
Chairman Zhou Maofei strongly agree with Kabir Khan about that the similar cultural foundations of the two country had influenced each other through films.
Awaara is a classic Indian film of 1950s. China imported it in 1970s and the Chinese audience of that generation have a unforgettable impression of it. Dangal grossed nearly 2 billion yuan in China in 2017, upgrading the box office record of non-Hollywood films. Now that how popular Indian films are in China is told by the performance, Zhou Maofei believes there are a broad range of themes to deal with in co-production.
Shah Rukh Khan agreed with it and suggested starting with a simple story. Concerning commercial interest, he suggested that at first a film of not high cost would be a good choice. “We explore from start and review the achievement to decide what to do with a greater program of higher cost. Thus it is possible to succeed.”
At the end of the Forum, guests expressed their expectation for the collaboration film of China and India. Zhou Maofei quoted Tagore’s line, “The leaf becomes flower when it loves. The flower becomes fruit when it worships.” With sincere hope of cineastes from the two county, China-India Film Co-Production Dialogue came to a flawless end. And the steps of film cooperation between China and India have just started.