BEIJING — The Chinese are coming to the Pusan Intl. Film Festival in numbers never seen before, riding a wave of confidence inspired by the growing muscle of its domestic industry and Olympic-fueled optimism.
The message they bring to their Asian peers at Pusan is this: Chinese cinema is coming out of the arthouse and into a multiplex near you.
Production has been slow in recent months because of the Olympics, which has forced the film biz, and indeed most other forms of cultural activity, to a standstill as the government tried to ensure as smooth an event as possible.
The Olympics did much to boost China’s profile in the Asian region, and the film biz is hoping to piggyback on some of that feeling at Pusan. The overall health of the Chinese film biz is robust, strengthened by growing B.O. receipts and higher-quality, locally produced fare. This includes big movies like John Woo’s “Red Cliff” and “Forbidden Kingdom,” and producers are hoping that China can start bringing commercial fare to the party.
“I think the Olympics will certainly help the Chinese market, and I think the Asian market is getting better and becoming more prosperous,” says Huayi Brothers’ Kelly Pang.
“At PIFF, we are expecting to meet some other film companies and make deals with them,” says Kang Le of PKU Starlight Group. “The Chinese film business is full of hope. We have blockbusters, art films, co-produced films and so on, and the China film market is willing to embrace the world. We absorb international technologies and resources to make our films. We try to keep pace with the international rhythm. That’s a good sign.”
Starlight is bringing Ma Chucheng’s “Love in the City” and clips from Zhang Ting’s “Wu Dong Xin Ling,” which is being examined by the censors, so the company cannot bring a copy of the full pic.
There will be much more selling than buying going on by Chinese companies. The government limits which companies can import foreign movies, so not too many orgs traveling to Pusan, will be buying when they’re in Korea. But companies will be busy promoting Chinese films.
“I hope that we have the opportunity in Pusan to talk with other film companies and look at ways in which we can maybe cooperate in the future,” says Qian Zhongyuan of Forbidden City Film Co. “More and more Chinese films will become increasingly international and can be sold in more countries, promoting Chinese culture.”
Qian’s company will send three representatives to PIFF, bring Xiao Jiang’s “PK.Com.cn” and children’s movie “Bird’s Nest” to the market.
“The main reason I go to Pusan is to meet other film people and film companies to sell our films. I want to talk with them, and I am expecting to make deals with them,” says Zhang Peng of Beijing Kunyi Cultural Media Co., which is bringing two pics to PIFF: “Na nian xia tian de hai” (The Sea That Summer) and “Zui hou de he quan” (Last Spring).
“The Chinese film market is developing really fast, and that’s really good. But in my opinion, China’s films often try to do too much, and staying simple is better,” says Zhang. “For example, an entertainment film is about entertainment, it does not have to deal with big themes.”
In Pusan, Huayi Brothers is focusing on one pic, “The Equation of Love & Death,” a story of drugs, murder and romance. Pic is directed by Cao Baoping and stars Zhou Xun, Deng Chao and Zhang Hanyu.
Chen Yongxiong, chief operating officer of Polybona, which will take two or three films to Pusan, reckons the Asian film festivals have been making major strides in recent years.
“The Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Pusan film festivals are all making a lot of progress. There is more competition, and everyone is emphasising the diversity, which is really good,” she says. “The Asian film market is trying to position itself better, and many more Europeans and Americans have started to pay attention to the Asian film market.”