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Xiamen Woos Film Industry, Becomes New Home of Golden Rooster Festival

China’s government-led Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival has found a permanent home in Fujian province’s coastal city of Xiamen, starting from this year, municipal representatives said Monday at a Shanghai Intl. Film Festival press conference.

“Xiamen has the confidence and the perseverance to be up to the task,” said Dai Zhiwang, the assistant director of the city’s propaganda bureau.

Founded in 1992, the Golden Rooster festival and awards will take place November 19-23 at the Xiamen International Convention and Exhibition Center. Last year, the roving event took place in Guangdong Province’s Foshan in the south, and in 2017, in the northern province of Inner Mongolia’s Hohhot.

Actress Yao Chen, sometimes referred to as China’s Angelina Jolie, will be this year’s festival ambassador. A Fujian native herself, she lauded her home province’s food and climate. “I hope that in the future films will allow Xiamen to become a more wonderful city and that more movie industry people will go there to build their dreams.”

Yao is known for her role in romantic comedies and action films like “If You Are The One 2” and “Journey To The West: The Demons Strike Back,” as well as for using her vast social media following to speak out about social issues such as food contamination and smog. She was a star in “The Eight Hundred,” Huayi Brothers’ ill-fated war epic that on Friday was abruptly pulled from its slot as the Shanghai festival’s opening film.

The Golden Rooster Awards are intended as the mainland’s counterpart to the Taiwan-based Golden Horse Awards and the Hong Kong Film Awards. It is backed by the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles and the China Film Association, who “extensively solicited opinions” from experts on which city should be their permanent host.

Xiamen representatives also spoke of their intention to turn the city into an “internationalized film and TV city.” It remains to be seen whether an international crowd will be swayed by the top advantage of Xiamen listed in the city’s promotional booklet: that it was once praised as “gardenlike” by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

But the municipal government is trying to put a bit of money where its mouth is by last year issuing a slate of new policies to “aggressively promote the upgrading and development” of the culture industries there. 

They include subsidies to attend trade fairs and support for the construction of film and TV industrial parks. To attract film and TV enterprises from outside of Xiamen, authorities are giving such firms a 100% rebate of corporate income tax and VAT in the first two years and 50% in the next three years for every company incorporated there, as well as personal tax incentives to entertainment professionals who choose to live or start their businesses there.

Outside companies that choose to settle in the city’s industrial parks will also get back 6% of their corporate income tax and VAT for the five five years. Outside companies using local services and TV crews will get subsidies of 60%. Earlier this year, Xiamen hosted the shooting of several scenes of Dante Lam’s “The Rescue.”  

The local government will also provide various sorts of cash rewards for companies registered in Xiamen whose products win awards like the Golden Rooster Awards or are broadcast at prime time on top platforms like CCTV.

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