DIEHARD CIN­EMA FAN

Shen Jian, the re­cent win­ner of a top French honor, has trav­eled a long way with hisWorld FilmRe­port, Xu Fan dis­cov­ers.

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

AngLee turned­down a num­ber of in­ter­view re­quests from world me­dia when Crouch­ing Tiger, Hid­den Dragon be­came the first Chi­nese ti­tle to win the Os­car for best for­eign movie in 2000.

But at the time, Shen Jian, a lesser-known TV pro­ducer, couldn’t just take “no” for an an­swer, so he sent his staff mem­ber­sto the di­rec­tor’salma mater, NewYorkUniver­sity.

There they recorded video greet­ings from Lee’s for­mer teach­ers and sent him the tapes.

The strat­egy worked — Lee granted Shen an in­ter­view. And, with it, World Film Re­port, his weekly pro­gram on CCTV-6, be­gan to flour­ish.

Shen, who un­til 2000 had no TV-pro­duc­tion ex­pe­ri­ence, put in all his money to launch the pro­gram that year, but he needed to have some­thing “sig­nif­i­cant” to get CCTV-6, a lead­ing movie chan­nel in China, to buy it.

“I told my peo­ple that you had no choice but to con­vince Lee. It was just like a bat­tle for honor. We­need­ed­towin,” Shen re­calls. The 50-year-old — bet­ter known as Jonathan Shen in theWest— is the chief pro­ducer ofWorld Film Re­port.

Now15 years later, the show that spe­cial­izes in for­eign hits has in­ter­viewed more than 3,000moviemak­ers­from­n­early 80 coun­tries and reaches an au­di­ence of up to 1 bil­lion across China, the world’s sec­ond-largest movie mar­ket.

Shen’s con­tri­bu­tion in pro­mot­ing cin­ema and cul­tural ex­changes won him In­signia of the French Che­va­lier in the Or­der of Arts and Let­ters on Wed­nes­day. The honor, pre­sented by the French gov­ern­ment, is the high­est recog­ni­tion in the field of cul­ture. In the past, most of the Chi­nese who won it were celebri­ties, such as ac­tor Ge You and ac­tress Zhou Xun.

Mau­rice Gour­dault-Mon­tagne, the French am­bas­sador to China, lauded Shen and his team for hav­ing es­tab­lished a plat­form to con­nect Chi­nese au­di­ences to world moviemak­ers.

“I was sur­prised to hear the good news, as I’m not a star. It’s a great pride to be rec­og­nized for my ef­forts in pro­mot­ing cul­tural ex­changes and di­ver­sity,” Shen says.

Shen, whose love for cin­ema goes back to his child­hood, says the­aters acted as “a shel­ter to flee from the real world’s cru­el­ties” his fam­ily faced dur­ing the “cul­tural revo­lu­tion” (1966-76). He was born in East China’s Nan­jing city.

He still re­mem­bers the olden-day the­aters and their small sales win­dows.

“Some­times the crowds be­hind would push and my hand would hurt,” he says of the time he stood in lines to buy tick­ets at such coun­ters. “But I was still ex­cited.”

That may ex­plain why Shen, who worked as a gov­ern­ment-pol­icy con­sul­tant be­fore 2000, de­cided to launch a TV show about movies. His anal­y­sis ofChina’s dig­i­tal re­forms, based on a four­month study in Sil­i­con Val­ley, was adopted by the 10th FiveYear Plan (2001-2005), the coun­try’s eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment blueprint.

Shen says his stay in the United States gave­hi­mop­por­tu­ni­ties to make friends with some in­flu­en­tial Hol­ly­wood moviemak­ers like vet­eran pro­ducer Mike Me­davoy. He re­turned to China and es­tab­lished Shinework Me­dia that started to pro­duceWorld Film Re­port, which fea­tures face­toin­t­er­views with for­eign moviemak­ers in their re­spec­tive coun­tries.

Shen also works as a con­sul­tant to sev­eral in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Mi­crosoft, Royal Philips and US in­vest­ment fund Sil­ver Lake.

“When the in­ter­na­tional firms en­counter prob­lems or are con­fused, they look for help. My work in some sense is like writ­ing a screen­play to guide them step by step,” Shen says. “What I earn from con­sul­tancy is spent in movie pro­duc­tion.”

His con­nec­tion with the rest of the world has given Shen’s com­pany rich re­sources to pro­duce movies. So far, Shinework has signed pro­duc­tion con­tracts with In­dia, Iran, Kaza­khstan and In­done­sia. And, agree­ments with Egypt, Greece, Cuba and Pak­istanareinthep­ipeline, hesays.

His aim is more to en­hance cul­tural ex­changes among coun­tries that are part of China’s One Belt, One Road Ini­tia­tive that seeks to re­vive con­nec­tions that ex­isted along the an­cient Silk Road.

One ex­am­ple can be seen in the co­pro­duc­tion with Kaza­khstan, which is in­spired by the last years of fa­mous Chi­nese mu­si­cian Xian Xing­hai, who died in Kaza­khstan at the age of 40.

Shen has re­al­ized his ado­les­cent­dreamof ex­plor­ing the world of cin­ema, but he also knows the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of helm­ing a pop­u­lar TV pro­gram likeWorld Film Re­port.

“Cin­ema is a medium be­yond lan­guage and eth­nic­ity to record and pass down dif­fer­ent cul­tures,” he says.

In 2006, Shen par­tic­i­pated as an un­of­fi­cial mem­ber in dis­cus­sions for the fi­nal re­port of the United Na­tions Al­liance of Civ­i­liza­tions, ini­ti­ated by Kofi An­nan, then-UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral.

The re­port aims to “ex­plore the roots of po­lar­iza­tion be­tweenso­ci­etiesand­cul­tures to­day, and to rec­om­mend a prac­ti­cal pro­gram of ac­tion to ad­dress this is­sue”, ac­cord­ing to theUNAOC web­site.

Con­tact the writer at xufan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Chi­nese TV pro­ducer Shen Jian (right) is a fre­quent guest at in­flu­en­tial film events, such as the Acad­emy Awards cer­e­mony.

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