“The market is bad and industry players are very pessimistic. I just hope it doesn’t get worse,” said Infotainment CEO Cindy Lin, though she noted that such periods of trouble are also just part of the cycle of business as usual in the territory.
“The China market has always been a turbulent one under strict government control, with many rises and falls,” she said. “Before, the market’s total volume was smaller, so when there was turbulence, the shock waves were also more contained. Now the market is bigger, so the impact of such waves are also more widely felt.”
One positive development for those in the art-house sector has been the growing influence of young audiences with more cosmopolitan tastes.
“The population of mainstream Chinese cinema-goers already includes people born after 2000, and thanks to the Chinese economy’s rapid development in the past 30 years, these young viewers’ tastes have really improved, and their understanding of film genres is much more diversified,” she said.
“In the past two years, art-house box office records have been broken again and again. Those of us who focus on the import and distribution of high-quality film are very pleased, since this is an indicator of the market’s diversification and urbanization.”
Lin says her firm has no special secret for success. “Selecting high-quality, unique movies that can both pass censorship and be commercially successful is the recipe that we believe will help us survive this low period.”
She was in the SIFF Market with three foreign titles: French comedy “Pure as Snow” and Japan’s “Farewell Song” and “Five Million Dollar Life.” The titles were acquired at Berlin, Hong Kong FilMart and Cannes.
“Pure as Snow” is an erotic comedy inspired by the Snow White fairytale, directed by Anne Fontaine (“The Innocents”), and starring Isabelle Huppert and Lou de Laage.
“Five Million Dollar Life” was written by Naomi Hiruta and directed by Sungho Moon. It tells the story of a young man who has survived a life-threatening disease thanks to donations, but is asked to give the money back when he decides to commit suicide to escape the pressures of his life. “Farewell Song” is a music-filled teen drama written and directed by Akihiko Shiota that tells the story of a love triangle between two young acoustic singer-songwriters and their roadie as they go on tour.