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Screens rise for documentary film industry

Updated: 2012-12-05 02:23
By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou ( China Daily)

More documentary films will be screened in professional cinemas as China develops the industry, said an official with the country's top radio, film and television authority.

"We will also set up some digital documentary cinemas in big cities like Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai to help Chinese films have more market coverage," said Zhang Pimin, deputy director of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

Zhang made the remarks at a conference on the sidelines of an annual international documentary film festival, which opened on Tuesday in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province.

"We will also encourage websites, either commercial or those affiliated with newspapers and television stations, to open more documentary film channels," Zhang said.

China's documentary industry has developed rapidly in recent years, Zhang said.

Central China Television's documentary channel, China's first professional satellite channel of its kind, now reaches more than 650 million people.

Citing A Bite of China, which was directed by Chinese filmmaker Chen Xiaoqing, Zhang said the industry also has a sound market value.

"It has created a huge online fever for China's documentary films. And many China-made documentary films have now entered the overseas market and received international recognition," Zhang said.

"A growing number of people have returned to enjoy documentary films on TV. I believe that more people will have an interest in the films thanks to the establishment of some online channels featuring documentary films in recent years," Zhang added.

More than 100 films will be screened in selected cinemas in the city during the festival. One of the highlights of the program is the screening of the film, China Heavyweight, which was recently named best documentary at Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards.

The film, co-produced by filmmakers from China and Canada, tells the story of a boxing coach and two young men who are training to be boxers in Sichuan province.

China issued a guideline to support development of the documentary film industry in 2010, in which some 5 million yuan ($803,000) is invested annually.

"China is rich with stories, from science and history to research and development. Stories about China will be a huge attraction for international documentary producers and audiences," said Luciano Tovoli, an Italian cinematographer.

Tovoli is the cinematographer behind the hugely successful six-hour TV report Diary of a Schoolteacher, which was made in 1971.

Another acclaimed historical film made by Tovoli is Chung Kuo, Cina, a unique hand-held portrait of China in 1972.

The Guangzhou festival, which was launched in 2003, has helped overseas producers better understand China's fundamental changes in the past few decades, said Peter Wintonick, a lifetime honorary award winner of the Guangzhou festival.

"Most Westerners get to know China from the Terracotta Warriors. But the documentary films have provided another way for us foreigners to better know about China," he said.

As China's only professional international documentary film festival, the event in Guangzhou has attracted 1,488 films from 65 countries and regions. Authorities have given 13 awards including the Golden Kapok Award, named after the flower of Guangzhou, to help establish the annual festival.

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