Isabelle Glachant, a French producer based in Beijing, has to be a strong contender for the busiest person in Busan this week.
Not only is she attending the festival as producer of the challenging New Currents competition film “Sex (Appeal)” from Taiwan’s Wang Wei Ming, she is also in town with Wang Xiaoshuai’s “Red Amnesia,” which plays in Busan’s A Window on Asian Cinema section.
And she’ll be spending a lot of time across the road in the BEXCO Convention Center with “Lotus Position,” a project in the Asian Project Market. Plus she has recently launched her Chinese Shadows company as an international sales company, representing third party productions.
Glachant ended up in Asia, initially in Hong Kong, after a job at Canal Plus, France’s pay-TV giant, as the in-house Asian expert for its regular film news show. She fell in love with Chinese cinema and went to Asian initially unclear of what she might do. “I went to broaden my horizons and thought of being a journalist,” she says. But, at a time when most Chinese filmmakers were working in state-run studios, she soon discovered a support and guidance role for those Chinese directors who were taking more independent positions.
At a time when Glachant had never produced a movie she picked up Wang Xiaoshuai as a client, and learned on the job. “It was about language skills, travel and academic cinema insight. Asia wasn’t providing these things to its filmmakers in those days,” she says.
Since then Glachant has expanded her role into creative production advice, and then into being a risk-bearing producer. “Sometimes in China we find that the money is there, but the production package is not. My job is to be a shadow for the director, which is why the company is called what it is and why we have a cat as our logo,” she says. “In Chinese we often hear that when a film is good it is to the credit of the director, but when a film is bad it is the fault of the producer.”
Along the way, Glachant has become a significant bridge between Europe and Asia – among other roles she has also represented UniFrance Intl. in Greater China – and worked with Jean-Jacques Annaud as he made his entry into Chinese filmmaking; with China’s Lou Ye as he made his French-financed Chinese-language “Love and Bruises.” With Wang Xiaoshuai, and “11 Flowers”, Glachant was responsible for the first official co-production that made use of the bilateral treaty between the two countries.
Glachant remains both critical of and highly optimistic for the Chinese film industry. “It has incredible talent – especially actors, directors and DoPs – and a huge amount of money. But there is no time for development of script and story.
“Filmmakers need to have realistic goals. Some seem to think that their big, noisy pictures will go to Cannes. But the rest of the world doesn’t care about the budget, the stars or the directors as they are unknown to them. International succ Hess needs to come from what’s on screen; the drama, the story and the characters,” Glachant says. “We are almost there. I hope it happens soon.”