Big-bud­get project set to ce­ment ties with Aus­tralia

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By XU­FAN

Cine­matic ties be­tween China and Aus­tralia are set for a quan­tum jump as the up­com­ing China Aus­tralia Film Fes­ti­val will see the launch of a big-bud­get co­pro­duc­tion by the two coun­tries.

Tina Liu, ex­ec­u­tive pres­i­dent of the fes­ti­val’s or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, tells China Daily that up to 60 mil­lion yuan ($9 mil­lion) has been raised for the movie called Life by the Sea and film­ing will be­gin dur­ing the event.

The an­nual fes­ti­val, ini­ti­ated in 2014 as a con­se­quence of Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s visit to Aus­tralia in Novem­ber that year, is jointly or­ga­nized by China’s film reg­u­la­tor and Aust­way In­ter­na­tional Group, a Mel­bourne-based com­pany.

This year’s fes­ti­val, now in its third year, is set to run from Oct 26 to 31, in Syd­ney, Mel­bourne and Bris­bane, where China’s re­cent top-gross­ing films will be screened.

While the list of films for the event is yet to be con­firmed, or­ga­niz­ers say that they’ve reached out to the pro­duc­ers of block­busters in­clud­ing Cold War II, The Mer­maid and Skip­trace.

China and Aus­tralia signed a film co­pro­duc­tion agree­ment in 2007, and it came into force a year later, but since then only a few co­pro­duc­tions have been re­leased or are in the pipe­line.

A se­ries of high-pro­file fo­rums have been held in re­cent years to push for more co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China, the world’s sec­ond-largest movie mar­ket, and Aus­tralia, known for its pic­turesque land­scapes.

Yin Hong, a film scholar and pro­fes­sor of jour­nal­ism at Ts­inghua Univer­sity, said ear­lier that such co­pro­duc­tions can take on Hol­ly­wood.

Now, fol­low­ing the foot­prints of Dragon Pearl and 33 Post­cards, Life by the Sea is the lat­est project to cul­tur­ally con­nect the two coun­tries.

While 90 per­cent of the film­ing will be done in Aus­tralia, Liu, who is also the pres­i­dent of Aust­way, says that the film will fo­cus on the strug­gles of Chi­nese col­lege stu­dents in Aus­tralia.

The film will use underwater and aerial photography to show­case Aus­tralia’s land­scapes and its tourist attractions, says Liu.

One of the main rea­sons why Life by the Sea is be­ing shot ex­ten­sively in Aus­tralia is that the co­pro­duc­tion agree­ment al­lows for re­bates of up to 40 per­cent on film pro­duc­tions that qual­ify.

Also, a for­eign film shot in Aus­tralia can get a 16.5 per­cent sub­sidy from the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment if its bud­get crosses A$15 mil­lion ($11 mil­lion).

Mean­while, the cast is yet to be con­firmed as the script is still be­ing re­vised.

“We are work­ing on find­ing new stars like Kris Wu, Lu Han or Li Yifeng,” says Liu.

GaoCheng, a vet­eran scriptwriter at the Shang­hai Film Group, is pen­ning the script.

He was re­cruited partly be­cause he has lived in Aus­tralia while his daugh­ter stud­ied at a lo­cal col­lege.

Sep­a­rately, a cam­paign to source ideas, which has run for the past seven months, is still be­ing con­ducted by a lo­cal Chi­nese-lan­guage news­pa­per in Aus­tralia.

Zhang Chen­zheng, the Bei­jing head of Aust­way, says that the news­pa­per has re­ceived around 40 sto­ries about Chi­nese stu­dents in Aus­tralia.

“There are hun­dreds of thou­sands of Chi­nese stu­dents study­ing in Aus­tralia. Most of them face the same dilemma: to stay or to re­turn?” says Zhang.

“A film based on their ex­pe­ri­ences will res­onate with view­ers.”

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Tina Liu, ex­ec­u­tive pres­i­dent of China Aus­tralia Film Fes­ti­val, presents a wed­ding gift to Chi­nese ac­tor Huang Xiaom­ing at last year’s fes­ti­val. the

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