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Chinese get pitch perfect at SIFF

CFPC offers day of pitch training

SHANGHAI — Three days of intensive pitching came to an end on Friday evening when the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival’s China Film Pitch & Catch (CFPC) sessions wrapped.

Intended to promote the development of Chinese-foreign co-productions, and provide a little education for Chinese directors looking to hone their investment strategies, CFPC hit the ground running on Tuesday with a half-day of pitch training.

Seven Chinese helmers in search of funding (chosen from around 80 applicants) received one-on-one advice from American Film Institute consultant James Hindman and Elizabeth Daley, dean of USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Two days later, the seven pitched their now-honed projects to major Chinese and overseas investors, watched by several hundred international filmmakers, festival delegates and the press.

For young Chinese directors unused to the rigors of the five-minute pitch it was an intimidating experience and several came unstuck, mostly due to nerves.

“This type of presentation represents a whole new skill set for most of us,” said Gu Xiaobai, whose film “Going West” was an entrant at the event. “Mostly it’s about controlling your nerves and knowing what you want to say. You have to find a way to present your project truthfully, but focus on what makes it different from the other films being pitched.”

A further 32 projects, a mix of local and international films outside the main pitching competition, were presented on Thursday.

Potential investor line-up featured about 20 European, U.S. and pan-Asian production houses, including Arte France Cinema, Orisa Produzioni and Unijapan, as well as a dozen or so Chinese companies.

“We have found enormous improvement in the organization this year, but there is still a lot to be done,” said Cristiano Bortone from Orisa, who has attended pitching sessions at SIFF before. “Making co-productions happen between Europe and a very different country like China is very difficult.”

At the closing event on Friday evening, two of the original seven projects were awarded prizes.

Yang Shupeng’s “The Robbers,” an historical kung fu action film, took the prize for the project with the biggest potential. Xiao Jiang’s “Goth’s Breath,” a contemporary rock ‘n’ roll dance film, won the award for most creative project. Both directors received free film processing credits with Cinelabs Beijing.

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