In an attempt to build stronger connections with a rapidly evolving and expanding Chinese film market, the Whistler Film Festival, in association with Telefilm Canada, is offering writer/producer teams across Canada a big new opportunity: the inaugural China Canada Gateway for Film Script Competition.The competition offers Canadian contestants a shot at a feature film co-production with Chinese studios. The first national effort of its kind, the competition is also the first to earn backing from the Beijing-based China Film Group, the biggest and most significant state-run film company in China. “China is especially attractive to forge co-production deals, as it can help assure the distribution of films into the massive Chinese marketplace,” said Harry Sutherland, chair of the China Canada Gateway For Film Committee. The deadline to apply with a script synopsis is Aug. 17, and 12 finalists will be chosen by Oct. 31. These finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their production ideas to a panel of up to five international film experts and three Chinese production companies, with a special emphasis on making projects viable in both Chinese domestic and international markets. The potential rewards should lure serious filmmakers: Up to three projects will be picked for development this year, with the average project budget estimated at $5 million. Though the Whistler fest works to bring all parties together, it will not play an active role in any deals.