2 win Chinese anti-piracy film contest

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BEIJING -- Two Chinese filmmakers are headed to Hollywood after winning contests sponsored by the MPA, local universities and media authorities to raise awareness about piracy's effect on the film industry.

"The Chinese New Year," by screenwriter Xue Xiaolu, won a nationwide contest that kicked off in 2006 as part of the first MPA film production workshop in Asia. The workshop was co-sponsored by media regulator the State Administration of Radio Film and Television and judged by "Stand and Deliver" screenwriters Tom Musca and Ramon Menendez, MPA Asia director Mike Ellis said.

Also winning was student filmmaker Liang Jinwei, whose one-minute movie about Chinese grade-schoolers who learn about theft and shame a mother who buys an illegal DVD, won the top prize in the 14th annual Beijing Student Film Festival short video production competition.

Liang's short -- chosen from entries from 300 universities across China by a jury that included director Feng Xiaogang ("The Banquet") -- will be posted for viewing to six cooperating Chinese Web sites, along with other entries.

"We need to start with the kids to start our education about piracy," said Wang Yichuan, Beijing Normal University College of Art and Communication president and BSFF representative.

China began a push for intellectual property protection about 10 years ago, and MPA data shows that of the $6.1 billion in potential ticket sales lost worldwide by big Hollywood studios to piracy in 2005, about $1.2 billion was lost to piracy in Asia.

Last year, the MPA helped local law enforcement in the Asia Pacific region conduct 12,400 raids resulting in 35 million illegal discs.

In congratulating Liang and Xue, Ellis called their works "world class" and said that, more important than seizing millions of illegally copied discs, was "winning the hearts and minds of the young. That's what's going to drive economies."

The historical responsibility lands on our shoulders to protect the wonderful products of the directors that have come before us," Liang said in accepting his prize.

Tang Yaohua, the deputy party secretary at Guangxi University for Nationalities, where Liang is a student, said that the local government is cracking down on illegal DVD sales in Guangxi, a poor province west of China's richest province, Guangdong, which in turn shares a border with Hong Kong.

"Each time we go to the market, there are fewer pirates selling movies," Tang said.

Xue and Liang will travel to California as expenses-paid guests of the MPA to meet with studio executives to further their projects and visit film sets in October.
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