The 13th BJIFF Facilitates High-Quality Development of Low- and Mid-Budget Arthouse Films, and Inject New Momentum in the Film Industry!
In recent years, low- and mid-budget arthouse films have attracted increasing attention as a major focus for filmmakers. Thanks to various powerful national favorable policies, low- and mid-budget arthouse films not only complement diversified creation, but also grow into a main wave in the film market.
In such a context, with huge support by the Office of National Commission for the Management of Special Funds for the Development of Film Industry, the 13th BJIFF organized forum and screenings of low- and mid-budget Chinese arthouse films so as to inject new vitality and momentum in the development of China’s film industry, and accelerate the implementation of the vision for “high-quality development of Chinese films by 2035” as put forward in the 14th Five- Year Plan for the Development of the Chinese Film Industry. Specifically, the forum was held at the O-Box, Langyuan Station, on the morning of April 27. Yang Wujun, Director of the Office of National Commission for the Management of Special Funds for the Development of Film Industry, Liu Yuxia, Deputy Director of the Office of National Commission for the Management of Special Funds for the Development of Film Industry, and Huo Zhijing, Deputy Director of the Publicity Department of Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, Director of Beijing Municipal Film Administration, and Vice Chairman of the BJIFF Organizing Committee, among other officials were present.
▍Big names in the industry were gathered to discuss development paths for low- and mid-budget Chinese arthouse films
In the context of actual development of China’s film industry, it’s essential to improve the overall quality of low- and mid-budget Chinese arthouse films for overall high-quality development of China’s film industry. With the theme of “The Development Status and Outlet of Chinese Small and Medium-sized Cost Arthouse Films”, the forum invited Zhu Weijie, film market expert of Chinese films and famous producer and presenter, as moderator, Stanley Kwan, jury member of the 13th BJIFF Tiantan Award and director, Wang Hongwei, producer, planner and screenwriter, Huang Xufeng, Founder, CEO and producer of the Factory Gate Films, producer Wang Lei and director Bai Zhiqiang among other experts and big names in the industry to discuss opportunities and challenges for low- and mid-budget Chinese arthouse films and contribute to the growth of the industry.
During the forum, panelists had lively discussions and exchanges regarding two topics, namely “‘small for big’-extraordinary impacts and status quo of low- and mid-budget Chinese films”, and “young directors’ thoughts on innovative narration and creative characteristics in low- and mid-budget Chinese arthouse films”.
“Low budget doesn’t mean low box office”, when it comes to key factors for success of low- and mid-budget Chinese films, Stanley Kwan believed that the supporting resources of TV stations are extremely support before a film takes off, especially the systematic training of young filmmakers. At the same time, he took the example of the Project Pitches, and expressed his expectation that the BJIFF Project Pitches and HKIFF Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum may include the promotion and distribution by third parties to improve the support chain for young directors’ projects, and “create more possibilities for screenplays and projects by young directors, and help their films go further”. He also shared his feelings about The Shadowless Tower shortlisted for the 13th BJIFF Tiantan Award: the screenplay, director and performance of the cast are very “Beijing”. He encouraged young directors to discover stories from their own grow-up environment and make good films, “As long as the city, locations, space and characters are well written and filmed, the film can move the audience”.
Stanley Kwan, jury member of the 13th BJIFF Tiantan Award and director
Wang Hongwei, producer, planner and screenwriter agreed with Stanley, “The success of certain low- and mid-budget films doesn’t necessarily set the trend. Films, such as Twenty Two, Paths of the Soul, Song of the Phoenix, Return to Dust and Journey to the West, are barely duplicable. They arose at an opportune time. They are one-of-their-own-kind. Therefore, they cannot be used as the paradigm.” Besides, he talked about changes and new characteristics of low- and mid-budget Chinese films over the past two decades based on two films he produced, i.e. Crazy Stone (2006) and Journey to the West (2023). In his view, both commercial and arthouse films are authorial, “I hope young directors can keep track of their generation’s attitude and view of the world and themselves at the time in the same age group”, and present their unique filmmaking.
Wang Hongwei, producer, planner and screenwriter
When it comes to solution for “homogeneous subject matters and content of films”, Huang Xufeng started from producer’s perspective, and posed a question he often asked young directors, “there are so many similar contents, why would you still film it?” In his opinion, when a young director is able to give an accurate and logically consistent reason for his own scope of representation, he/she has spotted the difference in the same genre of films, and wishes to present the difference in a unique way. Inevitably, his/her films wouldn’t be homogeneous. Producer Wang Lei called on young directors to “read more books”, study great films that are as rich as books, draw on their essence, present infinite imagination in their films, set up one-of-their-kind of narration rather than simple imitation. Director Bai Zhiqiang said, “Find yourself and your film is no longer homogeneous”. Young directors should relate to their projects, seek their own exciting points, and present their distinctive features.
Huang Xufeng, Founder, CEO and producer of the Factory Gate Films
Producer Wang Lei
Director Bai Zhiqiang
At the end of the forum, panelists sent their candid message to all young directors in the film industry: before entering the profession, ask yourself “Do I try to express myself or seek a job when I learn filmmaking, and want to make films and become a director?”; once in the profession, keep improving yourself, “help yourself instead of waiting for help”; and reflect on yourself during the process of creation, “Do I want to make a great film or one just for fun viewing?” Only by sticking to the way forward with firm faith can you go further on your filmmaking journey.
As moderator Zhu Weijie concluded, such in-depth content, unique perspective and practical thoughts may guide the way forward for young directors, enlighten filmmakers on market demands, inspire the public aesthetically through the film art, and further consolidate the role of low- and mid-budget arthouse films in enriching the industrial structure of Chinese films.
Under the organization call of the BJIFF, the forum followed the industry trend, focused on long-term thinking, and offered expertise, broaden horizon and creative thoughts. Filmmakers exchanged their insights regarding the prospects of low- and mid-budget Chinese arthouse films and provided feasible paths for young directors to create and distribute their works.
▍Various vivid films were screened, showing flourishing development of low- and mid-budget Chinese arthouse films
As a matter of fact, along with increasingly sound development of the ecosystem of China’s film industry, film industrialization system and rapid growth of Chinese films, many low- and mid-budget Chinese arthouse films have pushed the envelope further, appeared in the domestic and international film markets unexpectedly, and demonstrated unprecedentedly diversified development trends. Therefore, in addition to the forum, the 13th BJIFF fully showcased artistic achievements of low- and mid-budget Chinese films.
A total of 23 outstanding low- and mid-budget Chinese arthouse films with different styles and distinctive features are screened from April 20 to 29. In particular, there are masterpieces that rose to fame in renowned domestic and international film festivals, such as Kong and Jigme, The Shadowless Tower, and Night Falls, and widely popular new films, such as Journey to the West and The Cord of Life. Various films, such as reality, family and sci-fi genres, are presented, showing inexhaustible innovative growth of low- and mid-budget arthouse films in China.
Premiere of The Shadowless Tower
It’s worth noticing that the series of screenings and meet-and-greet activities were fully packed with passionate film fans. The screening of the Journey to the West held on April 22 was especially lively. The cast & crew had exciting exchanges and Q&A with the audience in the meet-and greet with respect to filming, screenplay writing, location scouting, role interpretation and prop design, etc. The fully occupied screening house and enthusiastic audience that kept asking questions reflected the attention and curiosity of the current film market towards low- and mid-budget Chinese arthouse films, and proved the effective role of the BJIFF activities in making low- and mid-budget Chinese arthouse films popular.
Meet-and-greet of the Journey to the West
In the current film industry, low- and mid-budget films not only represent films in the same budget level, but also more possibilities of Chinese films. We are confident that as the 13th BJIFF set its eyes on the category, more potential will be tapped out of China’s film industry.
Boost confidence and stick together on the way forward. The 13th BJIFF is held in full swing. Let’s keep following low- and mid-budget Chinese arthouse films, promote the prosperity of China’s film industry and create a brighter future for Chinese films.