Business / Industries

Chinese filmmakers in search of global screen success

By Liu Lu (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-18 10:59

Sun says from a professional point of view, the festival's main aim is to build links between British and Chinese filmmakers.

"We try to offer the best of oriental cinema to audiences in UK, especially those with less access to these films.

"We also aim to provide our audiences with knowledge and understanding of oriental film culture through film exhibitions and industry sessions.

"Filming East is a good platform for the UK film industry, too, to build international contacts and collaborations with Chinese industry talent, investors and co-producers."

One of its events this year, co-run with the BFI, was a year-long program of business, trade, creative and cultural collaborations.

As part of that, Feng Xiaogang, one China's most popular contemporary film directors, came to the UK to meet viewers at his own "Feng Xiaogang film season".

"China does not lack good movies, but it needs to explore effective ways of introducing them overseas," Sun says.

"The main reason for their failure internationally, is that Western audiences are not really interested to them, or their subjects."

She describes Filming East's sales pitch as "kungfu-free", and is focused instead more on romance, comedy, art and documentaries from China.

She believes film, and its vivid story telling, can be a powerful tool to introduce China's people and its culture to the outside world.

"A successful film can have a very strong impact, and even shape the image of a country.

"Chinese movie stars and producers cannot just walk the red carpet at foreign film festivals and expect to make their movies more popular abroad."

But she adds, too, that relying solely on festival screenings is far from enough, and directors have to create more opportunities to meet local audiences.

"If you screen non-commercial films in the UK, holding a Q&A session with the director or the production team practically determines whether the audience will buy the tickets.

"But of course, beneficial reviews from film critics are also crucial for film releases in the West. The trips to the UK this year of Feng in February, and Jia Zhangke, the Chinese film director and screenwriter who directed Still Life and Xiao Wu, were very helpful in promoting their films and China's industry," she says.

Sun adds that the perceived cultural differences between East and West is still the biggest hurdle to selling the idea of Chinese films abroad.

She notes, too, that something as simple as the quality of subtitles plays a key role in promoting Chinese films overseas, but there is a shortage of good translators to make sure not only that the English is correct, but also the meaning and context.

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