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Sino-Foreign Film Co-production Forum of the 8th Beijing International Film Festival Successfully Held

 

  The Chinese film market has once and again created box office myths. When War Warriors 2 finalized its box office at 5.68 billion yuan, even the filmmakers themselves did not know how profound the Chinese movie market would be. The co-produced film, which was placed in a larger space of imagination, was once again hit by the hot eyes of the filmmakers.

  In fact, co-productions have always been an important force in Chinese movie market. In 2016, Director Zhang Yimou’s Great Wall received 1.1 billion yuan box office earnings, and Kung Fu Panda 3 received 1 billion yuan box office. On March 23 this year, Pacific Rim: Uprising was released and the first-week box office exceeded 400 million yuan, making it the weekly championship.

  However, filmmakers' demand for co-productions is far more than that. Since it is co-producing, it is the largest possible accumulation of forces in cooperative shooting. It is not only the success on the box office, but also the exploration and establishment of multiculturalism, which could only be achieved via co-production.

  The internationalization-oriented Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) has always attached great importance to international cultural exchanges and cooperation. As one of the four major forums of BJIFF, the Sino-Foreign Film Co-production Forum has invited many filmmakers with international influence this year. The topics of how a film co-production win bigger market and cross-culture co-production are discussed in depth.

  

    Stephen Odell

  Each movie has its own concerns. Filmmakers always have very good expectations for their own works. Sometimes this expectation can be achieved, and in other times it is not. Our audience will always have new expectations for us. For example, for Chinese audiences, some movies can make tens of millions of dollars at the box office, but in the United States, there are not such good results, even if the global box office is taken into account. Just like Black Panther, and some other superhero movies, though being very good movies, they do not have a “production formula" that is universally applicable. Because the social issues discussed in the films are acceptable in some places but cannot be accepted in other places. It depends on the local market conditions.

  When I first entered this industry, I distributed some movies starring Jackie Chan and some other Chinese actors. In fact, it is not only kung fu movies. I'm also trying out some movies about Chinatown, telling the story of Chinatown to a wider audience in the United States. I had this experience when working at Paramount, and later on at Sony.

  As early as in the 1990s, we had a lot of cooperation with China. At that time, the American producers did not blindly follow the Chinese market, but only made choices.

  In China, we made some opens in limited release, with the main target audience being people like college students who often publicly, openly and profoundly think about issues. They can accept new movies. Therefore, the movies we produce are more in line with their appetite.

  Stephen Odell

  Each movie has its own concerns. Filmmakers always have very good expectations for their own works. Sometimes this expectation can be achieved, and in other times it is not. Our audience will always have new expectations for us. For example, for Chinese audiences, some movies can make tens of millions of dollars at the box office, but in the United States, there are not such good results, even if the global box office is taken into account. Just like Black Panther, and some other superhero movies, though being very good movies, they do not have a “production formula" that is universally applicable. Because the social issues discussed in the films are acceptable in some places but cannot be accepted in other places. It depends on the local market conditions.

  When I first entered this industry, I distributed some movies starring Jackie Chan and some other Chinese actors. In fact, it is not only kung fu movies. I'm also trying out some movies about Chinatown, telling the story of Chinatown to a wider audience in the United States. I had this experience when working at Paramount, and later on at Sony.

  As early as in the 1990s, we had a lot of cooperation with China. At that time, the American producers did not blindly follow the Chinese market, but only made choices.

  In China, we made some opens in limited release, with the main target audience being people like college students who often publicly, openly and profoundly think about issues. They can accept new movies. Therefore, the movies we produce are more in line with their appetite.

  

    Johannes Rexson

  Yesterday I attended the opening ceremony of BJIFF. Director Karwai Wong said at the opening ceremony, “Any film, as long as it is a good one, is made by careful and responsible people.” I think every link from the script to the shooting, and then to the market, is very important. From a certain point of view, my body and mind are connected with the creation of a movie. When I am editing a movie, I will be immersed in the work. I think that any trend and development in the society will be reflected in the film because the thinking of a film is actually the people's thinking. A good story must be propagated and broadcast.

  I think we must see new trends and new developments. Some of them may be short-lived and some may last a long time. Filming is actually about human nature and tells the story of human beings. So I believe that regardless of how we develop, movie production is always about how to impress people's inner mindsets and how they influence people’s ideas.

  When I was still a kid, probably in the 1970s or 1980s, there were some co-produced movies, but at that time the concept had just emerged, and it was not particularly extensive, so we considered co-operative films as exotic paintings. My experience has made me think that co-productions are a very good area. I have been to Poland for filming and participated in the Berlin Film Festival. Now I am in Beijing. I think these experiences will make a director like me with 30 years of professional experience more and more passionate about this industry.

  

 

    

    Wang Zhonglei

  I’ve been making movies for 20 years. I came into contact with the concept of co-production movies at the very beginning. I think that the problems of language and content are all the limitations ofthe global marketization of Chinese and foreign co-productions. However, today's Chinese film market is completely different from that of 20 years ago. It has become one of the most important movie markets in the world. So I think that European and American film companies should take the initiative to study how to cooperate with Chinese films and the Chinese market, instead of unilaterally thinking about how to cooperate with me.

  The greater significance of our discussion today is how to make Chinese-foreign co-production movies perform well in the market. In my opinion, the first step should be to start with the distribution. Is there an opportunity for European and American filmmakers to fit in with Chinese filmmakers from the early stages of their production, but not just simply combining resources? In addition, I think that animation movies are a good development orientation. It may reduce the obstacles caused by languages, characters, and story values, etc., in some aspects.

  Today's chats sound fairly interesting to me. We represent the understanding of the United States, Europe, and China for good movies. I also hope to take this opportunity to let all young directors understand that opportunities are equal. The first movie they want to shoot is usually something they want to express for many years. This is very important. One of the earliest works of a person may be to let the audience know if he has a unique aesthetic approach to the film. Even with a very low budget and simple expressions, the future potential of a young director can be seen.

    Renny Harlin

  In my view, a successful film co-production should think about how to tell a story honestly at the beginning of production, stead of proceeding from the perspective of a Hollywood producer. The idea of “making big money” is totally wrong and we should think about how to make a good film sincerely. A good film can strike a sympathetic chord across the world, so that the Chinese-Western film co-production must take into account the differences between cultures and the different tastes of the audience. It is necessary to understand what the audience expects.

  Many films are now trying to introduce western actors into Chinese films, but the cultural integration in this film co-production is not perfect. So when we are making film co-productions, we must sincerely tell a story we want to share, and the story is culturally valuable and sincere. This story does not necessarily have to be about Chinese traditions or myths. It can focus on some topics that resonate with today’s Chinese audience or global audience. I grew up in Finland and have always had co-production experience. As I have worked in Hollywood for 30 years and also in China for 4 years, I have a rich cross-cultural background. I want to say that during the script translation, even the best translators cannot express the minor details vividly. After a few translations, the original author's meaning has changed. My shooting experience in China tells me that if there are writers who can write bilingually, they can help us solve many issues in creation. I think that making a film co-production or an international film, language is the first step and also a very important step.

  

    Rob Minkoff

  When we talk about films, our focus is not really on the moving images on the screen, but on the people in the film. In the hearts of people of different cultures, the story you tell doesn’t have the sympathetic chord we say.

  My earliest experience with China was to use chopsticks in Chinese restaurants. Then I became a fan of Bruce Lee and later I got to know Jackie Chan. The Chinese martial arts was also one of my earliest understandings of Chinese culture. Later, I treated Chinese culture from the complex and diverse Chinese social perspectives and then I really appreciated the value of Chinese culture. I think the topic we are discussing here today is about, in the final analysis, how much power the film production has. For all of us human beings, we need to understand each other, appreciate each other, and think about what our commonalities are.

  In my view, “Coco” is a very good example. It is about the Mexican culture. Despite that many people in the world did not know about Mexico, it still achieved great success. Many people in the film production team are not Mexicans. The methods and perspectives they use to tell stories are different from those in Mexico. Therefore, when making a film co-production, it has many narrative structures to choose to impress and move the audience and allow them to understand and think.

  When we watch films, we may be moved, excited, and want to laugh. These film-watching experiences continue to motivate us to become filmmakers. Therefore, the young filmmakers must learn more about the work of masters in the past and look forward to the future, “go from the past into the future”.

  

    Fedor Bondarchuk

  I was one of the judges of the “Tiantan Award” for Beijing International Film Festival three years ago. I am a film director obsessed with technology. For example, my film Stalingrad was shot in a film studio, and after that I used a lot of special effects. For me, technology is very important. But I think technology is still only the second level in film production. The first level is always a story. My last feature film Attraction harvested more than 1 billion roubles the box office in Russia a year ago. Now we are making a sequel, and in the process of sequel script creation, we thought about how to add Chinese characters to the story.

  Why is this? Because we want to enter the Chinese market, and we hope to obtain higher returns in the Chinese market. But in the end we still gave up on this idea, because such a rigid implantation of Chinese actor is very speculative. For example, in the late 1930s, the Russian pilots once went to China to help Chinese pilots. There were various stories between them, so the stories created on this historical basis are organic and not rigid. I think such films have great potential in the future.

  The foundation of every successful film is a story. I can't say that there are many such films, but the world is changing, and there is no doubt that films are blurring the boundaries of the world. What we need to do is to correctly and skillfully use the film art.