Fresh film­mak­ers re­write script for Canada

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By Wang Ru in Bei­jing wan­gru@chi­nadaily.com.cn

New, young di­rec­tors are help­ing Canada’s movie in­dus­try to step out from un­der Hol­ly­wood’s shadow, film­mak­ers at the Fifth Bei­jing In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val said.

This year’s fes­ti­val, which closed Thurs­day, fea­tured seven movies from Canada, each of­fer­ing au­di­ences in the Chi­nese cap­i­tal a glimpse into a dif­fer­ent as­pect of North Amer­i­can cul­ture.

“We met with di­rec­tors from all over the world dur­ing the fes­ti­val. We were very ex­cited,” direc­tor Jeremy Thomas said. His en­try in the fes­ti­val, Ally Was Scream­ing, is about two friends who find a win­ning lot­tery ticket at a dead friend’s home and is a re­flec­tion on temp­ta­tion.

Thomas and his pro­ducer Colin Shel­don were among the Canadian film­mak­ers in­vited to the Canadian Em­bassy of China on Tues­day to talk with Chi­nese col­leagues.

“We’ll also be go­ing to visit Zhangji­a­jie, the in­spi­ra­tion for James Cameron’s float­ing moun­tains of Pan­dora in his block­buster Avatar,” he said.

Co-pro­duc­tions be­tween Canada and China are be­com­ing more com­mon, with Trans­film In­ter­na­tional, a ma­jor stu­dio in Mon­treal, re­port­edly in ne­go­ti­a­tions to make a range of movies with a Chi­nese film com­pany.

Many Canadian movie stars are al­ready big names in China, such as Cameron, Jim Car­rey and Ryan Gosling, but their fame is largely thanks to Hol­ly­wood.

“Canada is in a unique sit­u­a­tion. Most Cana­di­ans can speak English, so our cul­tural con­tent is of­ten eas­ily dom­i­nated by the Amer­i­cans,” Shel­don said. “Our gov­ern­ment has tried to reg­u­late the film in­dus­try to en­sure Canadian con­tent has a chance, but a lot of films done in Canada are for the Amer­i­cans.”

Ma­jor stu­dios reg­u­larly use cities in Canada as lo­ca­tions for movies set in the United States due to cost in­cen­tives, with Van­cou­ver’s movie in­dus­try even nick­named Hol­ly­wood North.

The good thing is, Shel­don said, “we have cre­ated an in­fra­struc­ture that Canadian film­mak­ers can also use”.

Preg­goland, about a 35-year-old woman who fakes be­ing preg­nant to fit in with her friends, was one of the Canadian films best re­ceived by fes­ti­val au­di­ences, prompt­ing one re­viewer to sug­gest re­mak­ing it in Chi­nese.

“Some Chi­nese film­mak­ers have talked to me about the pos­si­bil­ity,” co-pro­ducer Aaron Au said.

The 34-year-old, who was born in Hong Kong and is now based in Van­cou­ver, is a kung fu mas­ter who has worked as a stunt­man on Hol­ly­wood hits, in­clud­ing X-Men, Godzilla and The Fan­tas­tic Four. He has also trained Chi­nese ac­tion stars. Preg­goland is the sec­ond film he has pro­duced.

De­spite the Canadian gov­ern­ment at­tempt­ing to pro­mote Canadian movies abroad, he said the work of film­mak­ers should sim­ply speak for it­self.

“Or­ga­ni­za­tion such as the Canadian Broad­cast­ing Com­pany have been push­ing Canadian con­tent, but I think it’s pretty bor­ing,” Au said. “It’s just all about mak­ing a good movie, and then we can get into other mar­kets.

“For ex­am­ple, the South Kore­ans make great movies. They don’t mind mak­ing their coun­try look bad, as long as it’s a good movie,” he added.

Canadian movies have al­ready en­joyed some suc­cess over­seas, par­tic­u­larly those made in the French-speak­ing prov­ince of Que­bec. In 2004, com­edy Les In­va­sions Bar­bares, a co-pro­duc­tion be­tween Canada and France, won the Os­car for best for­eign lan­guage film.

And in the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, founded in 1976, Canada boasts one of the most pres­ti­gious events on the movie world’s cal­en­dar.

“Most Canadian films to­day are story-driven and made by new di­rec­tors,” said Lind­say Mackay, whose di­rec­to­rial de­but, Wet Bum, about a self­con­scious teenage girl who strikes an un­likely friend­ship with two res­i­dents at a re­tire­ment home, was also en­tered in the fes­ti­val.

“Hol­ly­wood has over­pow­ered the Canadian film in­dus­try. … Canada has re­al­ized that, and it is pro­vid­ing a plat­form, as well as fi­nance, to new film­mak­ers like me,” she said.

The Bei­jing In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, now in its fifth year, is be­com­ing a ma­jor venue for movie in­dus­tries world­wide.

This year, guests in­cluded ac­tion star and for­mer Cal­i­for­nia gover­nor Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger, French direc­tor Luc Bes­son, and ris­ing stars such as Chi­ne­seCana­dian ac­tor Mark Chao.

WANG RU / CHINA DAILY

A still from In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val.

one of seven Canadian films screened dur­ing the 5th Bei­jing

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