More co-productions likely ahead

SYDNEY — A group of high-level Chinese film execs attended the world preem of “33 Postcards” at the Sydney Film Festival on Thursday in what is hoped is a sign of greater co-operation between the two countries.

Pic is only the second China-Australia co-production after “The Dragon Pearl,” which was released in April, but it’s hoped it won’t be the last.

Helmed and produced by Pauline Chan, “33 Postcards” was shot in Sydney and at China’s Hengdian Film Studios.

Pic stars Guy Pearce, Claudia Karvan and Zhu Lin (who was at the preem) and tells the story of a foreign woman arriving in Oz only to find her sponsor has been jailed for manslaughter.

One of the obvious benefits for Aussie filmmakers is that co-productions generate buzz in one of the world’s largest market. Also, such films can expect to get a release in China, which allows only 20 foreign films into the market on a revenue-sharing basis each year.

“Postcards” travels to the Shanghai Film Festival next week.

The Chinese delegation was headed by Zhejiang Hengdian Film Prods. topper Liu Zhijiang, who was accompanied by Zhejiang’s film division director He Yue Hua, plus Chua Chye Seng of principal investor IFS Capital and John Sim from Singapore’s SAPO Investment.

Liu says there are benefits for China.

“The appeal of Australian/Chinese co-productions is that Australia has excellent directors, producers, cast and post-production staff, and its VFX and technology are well renowned,” Liu told Daily Variety. “Meanwhile, China possesses a massive market and excellent production values for any film budget.”

Liu added that co-productions have the best of both worlds.

“Following the success of ‘The Dragon Pearl’ and ’33 Postcards,’ talented Chinese and Australian filmmakers will in future continue to exchange ideas and learn from each other,” Liu said. “What’s more, with support from our governments, I believe audiences worldwide can expect to see more Chinese-Australian co-productions.”

Appropriately, the Sydney Film Festival has its first international president this year — Chinese helmer Chen Kaige (“Farewell, My Concubine”).

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