Local filmmakers encouraged to go global

HONG KONG — China has launched a free market zone in Shanghai where controls on imported pics will be relaxed and where local filmmakers will be encouraged to “go global” and export worldwide.

The Shanghai Intl. Cultural Service and Trade Platform is located inside Shanghai’s Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, and the relaxation of controls on imported movies means it will not be governed by the cap of 20 foreign pics allowed to screen each year in China on a revenue-sharing basis.

However, this is unlikely to mean a flood of Hollywood pics entering China. Strong censorship remains in place, and the free trade zone is more likely to focus on boosting domestic product.

The zone, unveiled at the Hong Kong Filmart conference on Tuesday, “is dedicated to pioneering the exploration of international cultural service and trade in Shanghai,” the operators said in a statement.

It will “hothouse” Chinese movies to perform well in Western markets, where only a few titles, such as Zhang Yimou’s “Hero,” have done well in recent years.

It will also provide a platform for financing and training, as well as “generating, developing and strengthening the Chinese cultural industry…and serve the whole nation,” the statement said.

China operates similar free-trade zones for manufacturing and other industries, but this zone is the first special cultural administrative free trade area.

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