China and Lux­em­bourg get to­gether to take onHol­ly­wood

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By XUFAN

Chi­nese cin­e­mas have long been dom­i­nated by Hol­ly­wood block­busters, partly be­cause of the ex­ist­ing quota for for­eign films.

Only 34 for­eign films are al­lowed for gen­eral screen­ing each year on the ba­sis of a box­of­fice shar­ingsys­te­meachyear.

But now, Euro­pean film­mak­ers are hop­ing to team up with Chi­nese coun­ter­parts to throw a chal­lenge at North Amer­i­can film stu­dios.

“Un­der the cur­rent quota sys­tem, it is not easy for Euro­pean films to be dis­trib­uted in China. But in the fu­ture, it might be lib­er­al­ized and we’ll see more op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Guy Dalei­den, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Film Fund Lux­em­bourg, told China Daily on the side­lines of the 2017 Schen­genChi­nese Film Prize, a new event jointly held by Lux­em­bourg and China, in Shanghai on June 13.

China had signed an agree­ment on the present quota with the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion in 2012, valid for five years. It al­lows 34 for­eign films to be in­tro­duced per year based on a box-of­fice shar­ing sys­tem to give 25 per­cent profit to the for­eign pro­duc­ers of the fea­tures.

Most Chi­nese film­mak­ers es­ti­mate the quota would be loos­ened in the next year, as new ne­go­ti­a­tions with the WTOare set for mid-Fe­bru­ary. As more than 90 per­cent of the 34 for­eign films shown in China are from Hol­ly­wood, Euro­pean film­mak­ers ex­pect they could earn a big­ger mar­ket share if the quota is re­vised.

Dalei­den says most films from Lux­em­bourg are co­pro­duc­tions with ma­jor Euro­pean coun­tries, such as France, Italy and Spain.

Other than co­pro­duc­tions, Lux­em­bourg’s rich fi­nan­cial sys­tem makes it at­trac­tive to for­eign film­mak­ers, who can get a max­i­mum in­vest­ment of 1.7 mil­lion euros ($1.87 mil­lion) for a film from Lux­em­bourg’s govern­ment.

“We used to co­pro­duce with North Amer­ica. But in the last cou­ple of years, we have had no such co­pro­duc­tions,” he says. “We don’t want to act as a serv­ing plat­form for Hol­ly­wood films.”

They are look­ing to make smaller yet in­ter­est­ing sto­ries linked to Europe, Dalei­den says.

Lux­em­bourg has a to­tal pop­u­la­tion of 550,000, of which around 40 per­cent are for­eign­ers, in­clud­ing 5,000, or 1 per­cent, from China, Dalei­den says.

“It’s a mul­ti­cul­tural so­ci­ety, which is in­ter­ested in films with dif­fer­ent back­drops,” he says.

The Schen­gen Chi­nese Film Prize can bring Chi­nese star power to Lux­em­bourg and other Schen­gen coun­tries, ac­cord­ing to him.

“Peo­ple love beau­ti­ful faces. If you let them see Gong Li or Jackie Chan, they’ll be in­ter­ested in Chi­nese films.”

Chen Yi, the Chi­nese founder of the event, says Lux­em­bourg, a fa­vorite hub in Europe for bank­ing, has its fi­nan­cial advantages in the film busi­ness, too.

“In its long his­tory of in­ter­na­tional co­pro­duc­tions, Lux­em­bourg has shown that it knows how to re­duce com­mer­cial risks,” she says.

The event will be held in Lux­em­bourg in late Fe­bru­ary or ear­lyMarch next year.

An in­flu­en­tial Euro­pean film­maker will be in­vited as the jury head and the awards will be mainly given to young tal­ents.

Wu Guan­ping, the ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of the jury and the dean of film stud­ies de­part­ment at the Bei­jing Film Academy, says he is now work­ing on se­lect­ing the en­tries for the com­pe­ti­tion sec­tion of the awards.

“China’s movie mar­ket is not short of in­vestors,” he says. “But the big fi­nancers are busy com­pet­ing for celebri­ties.”

Wu says the event would help young Chi­nese film­mak­ers win both recog­ni­tion and fi­nan­cial sup­port.

If you let them see Gong Li or Jackie Chan, they’ll be in­ter­ested in Chi­nese films.”

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