Big-budget project set to cement ties with Australia
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.”
Tina Liu, executive president of China Australia Film Festival, presents a wedding gift to Chinese actor Huang Xiaoming at last year’s festival. the