16 earn China filmmaking grants

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BEIJING -- China's government has launched its first annual film subsidy, granting 16 young directors 500,000 yuan ($64,000) each, the artistic department of the Film Bureau said Friday.

Under the State Administration of Radio Film and Television, the bureau set aside a total of eight million yuan ($1 million) in 2007, to support directors such as Golden Lion winner Jia Zhangke ("Still Life") and Golden Horse winner Lu Chuan ("Kekexili"), an artistic department spokesman said.

Grantees are all under 45 years of age and were recommended in 2006 by the Film Bureau as makers of important films to watch, said Lu Liang, deputy director of the bureau's artistic department.

"It's good news and I am very excited about it," director Wanma Caidan told Beijing Youth Daily, adding that, while the sum was not enough to complete a film, it was "definitely helpful."

Describing the historical shortage of funds for Chinese filmmakers, director Ning Cai, head of the Inner Mongolian Film Studio, told the Youth Daily: "Frankly speaking, I used to be very nervous during shooting and might make compromises due to the lack of funds during post-production. This subsidy is not a small amount, because in China, we have many medium and small films."

Zhang Pimin, deputy chief of the Film Bureau, told the daily that the subsidy was the first step in the state's greater support for the domestic film industry, including increased promotion and greater support for distribution.

The Film Bureau is studying the creation of a new circuit focused on screening children's and art-house films, Zhang said.

The Film Bureau's 2007 subsidy grantees are Fang Gangliang, Gao Qunshu, Hasi Chaolu, Jia Zhangke, Lu Chuan, Mali Wen, Ning Cai, Ning Hao, Ning Jingwu, Wang Xiaoshuai, Wang Yiyan, Wanma Caidan, Wulan Tana, Xu Jinglei, Zhang Yang and Zhang Yibai.
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