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Inside Move: Chinese inscrutable at fest

Delegation toots, treats and leaves the Croisette

The Chinese are coming … slowly.

While the world’s film industry wised up Thursday to an apparent ban on the launch of Hollywood films in China for seven weeks this summer, a Chinese delegation was at the Cannes Film Festival to peruse product and — in a fresh departure — tubthump its wares.

True, there has been greater Chinese openness at Cannes. An official delegation hosted a cocktail party Tuesday. Butin Yang, president of main pic importer/exporter the China Film Group, spoke at Sunday’s high-powered international powwow on the global fight against piracy, along with Sony Pictures’ Jeff Blake, Warner Bros.’ Richard Fox and DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg.

China had adapted some aggressive policies against pirates, Yang said. “You need united action,” he added.

Cannes also saw the launch of China Film Promotion, an umbrella org for China’s state-run film studios and some private companies. It also was attempting to sell Chinese product. Fare touted at its stand included multiple docus — such as series “A Cultural China” and toon kidpic “Babies,” about children who train a guide dog.

But considering China is viewed today as one of the world’s most promising emerging markets, the Chinese presence wasn’t much to shout about, with some 30 individuals registered at the market, comparable with previous years.

And maybe there’s a lack of pizzazz about some product, such as the docu sold at this year’s Cannes, “Chinese Tea Culture” with the subtitle “History and Culture Through Tea, Land for Tea Cultivation and the Art of Tea.”

By Wednesday, the Chinese delegation had left Cannes en masse. Caught on his cell phone, a China Film Group official declined to comment on the group’s mission at Cannes.

And yet … China continued to gather praise as a shooting locale, thanks to the elaborate Beijing studio work on Zhang Yimou’s “House of the Flying Daggers.” And Shanghai-based Tomson Intl., producer of “Farewell My Concubine,” is in Cannes talking up new projects, suggesting some entrepreneurial heft to the Chinese film industry.

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