The year of 2018 witnessed the annual box office revenue exceed 60 billion yuan on the Chinese mainland, while the cumulative value of contract signing during the Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) of the year totaled more than 100 billion yuan after 8 years’ development since its inception. China’s film industry continues to gain great momentum at box office in 2019. The Beijing International Film Festival Film Market was officially renamed the “Beijing Film Market”, wrestling to fully integrate market transaction content and create a more professional, broader, and more international film trading platform. Known as the “Binary Star”, Project Pitches and Film Trading Platform, are the highlights of the Beijing Film Market, with the former contributing industry talent and projects while the latter providing them with the opportunities from the market. In retrospect, the past nine years witnessed continuous changes and upgrades of the Beijing Film Market, which is also a testament to BJIFF’s great development.
Film Market, Highlight of A Film Festival
Film production is like leaching gold, with only a grain of gold found on thousands of miles of sand. Therefore, finding “mines” and “river beds” is crucial for a successful film. In this regard, film market plays a role as a map or guide. For film fans, competition section is the main course and focal point of a film festival, such as Cannes Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival. However, for countless film workers, glories on the red carpet, premieres and the awarding ceremony are dazzling and glorious moments_as the journey of making a film come to a close. However, what really unnerves the business insiders or what they anticipate are the exchanges and encounters at the film market in Cannes and Berlin, which affect the birth of a film, the publicity of a movie as well as the future of a filmmaker. Winning Gold Bear was an absolute triumph for A Separation, but finding a North American distributor for the film was even a greater success, which also paved the way for the financing and production of Asghar Farhadi’s next film, The Salesman.
Hence, every film festival with an international reputation always attaches importance to the film market. The Berlin Film Market at the beginning of each year fires the first shot for the trading of the year; the Cannes Film Market, which kicks off in summer in Europe, attracts filmmakers across the world; the time-honored Locarno Film Market, takes root in Western and Southern Europe for promoting film trading; the biannual American Film Market, boasting Hollywood resources, offers a platform as valuable as a film festival; Busan Film Market, like Korean movies, is gaining momentum, which is of great significance for the current internal exchange and export of Asian movies. Film market is the highlight of a film festival for its second-to-none role.
Copyright Trading, the Pearl of A Festival
The trajectories of other international film festivals act as a guide to the young BJIFF, while its aggressive operations over the past 9 years help build its confidence. The newly born 1st BJIFF in 2011 rolled out “Film Negotiation” Section, connecting capital, talent and information flows for the first time. As a consequence, the turnover of the film market reached 2.794 billion yuan, while China’s film industry gained 13.1 billion yuan at box office that year. In 2013, industry-standard “Film Market” was launched at the 3rd BJIFF, which upgraded the standards, clarified the regulations and developed the system with a total turnover of 8.7 billion yuan and a box office revenue of 21.8 billion yuan. In 2018, the 9th session officially adopted the name “Beijing Film Market”, while the Top 10 Highest Grossing Films in 2018 comprised of 6 Chinese films and 4 Hollywood movies – a victory for Chinese movie. Meanwhile, over-60-billion-yuan revenue ushered China’s film industry into a new era.. In this context, as the center of China’s film industry, the adoption of “Beijing Film Market” is inevitable, declaring the strong expectations of BJIFF for the future of Chinese films and its own continuously upgraded positioning as well as its ambitions to influence the landscape of Chinese film. The historic movement strongly announces to all filmmakers that a film festival matching China’s film market is coming.
For the film industry, Project Pitches represent soft power, echelon construction, and incubators, while copyright trading represents hard power, brand awareness, and external influence. With a film market of over 60 billion yuan, how to go global is an inevitable question for Chinese film and all filmmakers. Chinese films are gaining great momentum, with more screenings overseas, which is of great significance in cultural output. On this occasion, “Film Copyright Transaction Platform” was firstly established at the 9th Beijing Film Market, which has been widely recognized and praised. At the 10th edition, top priorities are still to optimize and expand the functions of International Film Trading Programme with more internationally renowned copyright parties and well-known domestic and international Internet companies to be invited. Coupled with the newly built Market Screenings Section, the Beijing Film Market will create a communication space for domestic and foreign film & television resource cooperation by various ways such as high-quality, private film viewing sessions, where high-quality company representatives will be invited based on the need of guests, bringing comprehensively upgraded services to both exhibitors and guests. Along the development path, BJIFF will continue to build a better “Film Copyright Transaction Platform” and further improve the categories and horizons of copyright trading in terms of function and method. In addition, the Beijing Film Market will clarify BJIFF’s characteristics and positioning to create its own brand, “Oriental Copyright Transaction Center”.
Transactions yield numbers, while copyright trading, transcending legal, financial, and economic terms, embodies humanistic value of films, which is the real higher value and goal of the film market. People in a moderately prosperous society yearn to satisfy the spiritual needs. Also, the global vision in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative requires videos and images that transcend language to achieve connectivity. Far from a mere sale, each transaction represents understanding and cooperation among different people. Therefore, exhibitors from various countries think highly of the Beijing Film Market. For example, Indian exhibitors said that they were willing to show Indian films to more viewers through the Beijing Film Market due to the strong relationship between Chinese and Indian culture; Japanese exhibitors said that thanks to BJIFF, Japanese films have more opportunities to enter China, while Sino-Japan exchanges enjoy a long history. Beijing Film Market is promising to achieve more far beyond just copyright trading.
As China becomes a moderately prosperous society, culture development and output turn out to be an important indicator exemplifying China’s prosperity and national rejuvenation when greater emphasis, domestically and internationally is putting on soft power in addition to hard power. Welcoming its first tenth anniversary, BJIFF stands next to a new start line, which represents glory but responsibility, opportunity but challenge. The online registration channel for the Beijing Film Market of the 10th BJIFF officially opened on December 2, 2019. We are truly confident that film trading, particularly international copyright trading will experience thriving development, which enables the Beijing Film Market to stand higher. After shining on the journey spanning over a decade, Beijing Film Market will continue to be a highlight of BJIFF.