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“China has signed co-production agreements with 22 countries. Similar agreements between Iran and China are in the works, and will be signed by the end of this year,” said Miao Xiaotian, GM of the China Film Co-Production Corporation on Monday.

Miao was speaking at the Shanghai International Film Festival, which is hosting a six-title Focus Iran section and panel discussions on deeper co-operation.

Reza Mirkarimi, director of Iran’s Fajr International Film Festival, gave an overview of Iranian film, covering its history and modern operation. One notable segment of the presentation he gave was a segment called “Who Calls the Shots,” in which he explained the organizations and government bodies that oversee the Iranian industry. At the top of the list is the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance — the common acknowledgement of the need for censorship may be the ideological foundation of a China-Iran co-production relationship.

“China and Iran share so much in common when it comes to their social ecology and creative ecology,” said film director Jiang Haiyang. Wang Yibing, CEO of Dirty Monkey Films Group, said that, “China and Iran’s film industries share a passion for realist topics,” adding: “Each country’s complicated social structure and large population provide fertile soil for creativity.” Wang’s company produced the social-realist drama “Dying to Survive” in 2018, which enjoyed widespread critical and commercial success.

“Governments can work to promote the cooperation between countries, but the implementation should be done by filmmakers. Filmmakers need to have more dialogue. Maybe a movie on children’s topics can be a starting point of our collaboration,” said Kamyar Mohsenin, the Fajr festival’s manager of international relations.

That was a reference to box office dark horse “Capernaum,” a Lebanese film which debuted in Cannes last year and was a theatrical sensation in China. “Its China box office totaled four times what it earned in the rest of the world — Iranian movies can do that too in China,” said Wang.

“Remakes are a form of collaboration,” Wang said. “We’ve been contacted by several overseas companies regarding a remake of ‘Dying to Survive.’ A remake isn’t a commercial trick, especially when it comes to realistic themes. The content can reflect each country’s unique characteristics, showcasing even more clearly cultural differences, and delivering cultural significance that is much bigger than the market value.”