ROME — The Venice Film Festival’s independently run Venice Days section is officially partnering with Bridging the Dragon, the platform that brings together the European and Chinese film industries, to launch several new initiatives.
Among these is a workshop where hit-making Chinese screenwriters such as Shu Huan (“Lost in Hong Kong”) and Yuan Yuan (“Go Away Mr. Tumor”) will advise European scribes about what clicks with Chinese audiences — of increasing importance given the size of the Chinese box office. The workshop is part of a China Film Forum to be held on the Lido from Sept. 1-3 during the festival.
Venice Days will also host the second round of the Sino-European content lab, run by Bridging the Dragon (BTD), which has picked several new projects with cross-cultural narratives. “Honeymoon Jungle,” for example, is a comedy being developed by France’s Alcatraz Films and Wild Bunch in which a young, freshly married Chinese couple flies to Uganda for what they wrongly think will be the perfect honeymoon. Norwegian children’s film “Secret of the Blue Dragon,” also in development, turns on three Norwegian families who go on a holiday in China to try to save an elephant sanctuary.
The lab’s first session was held during the Beijing film festival in April. BTD is also present in Cannes, Berlin, Locarno, and Shanghai.
In its film selection, Venice Days will feature the world premiere of Italian director Cristiano Bortone’s “Coffee,” the first work spawned by the co-production treaty signed by Italy and China in 2014. The multilinear drama set in Italy, China, and Belgium is a collaborative effort between European and Chinese writers and got the greenlight from Chinese censors.
During the Venice forum BTD will also run a training session on how to navigate co-production and political complexities with China, open to producers of documentaries. Docus are a lesser-known side of the Chinese film industry with which Italy’s documentary association Doc.it is increasingly finding collaboration opportunities.
High-level film execs from Europe and China in attendance to provide tutelage will include Ulf Israel, President of Production at Germany’s Senator Film; Ben Erwei Ji, a former top exec at Warner Bros. and Disney in China; and Sisi Wu, head of development at Beijing-based Jetavana Entertainment.
An official delegation from China’s Film Co-production Corporation (CFCC), headed by Miao Xiaotian, will be making the trek to Venice to meet with European film industry execs and Italian government officials.