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Beijing Film Festival: MPA Screenwriting Workshop Selects Chinese Winner

Paul Hanneman P

Fox International co-president Paul Hanneman and Xue Xiaolu, director of Chinese hit "Finding Mr. Right," mentored more than 35 aspiring international filmmakers at the event.

Shao Xuan, a young Chinese filmmaker from the Beijing Art of Film Research Center, will soon be making her first trip to Hollywood, courtesy of the Motion Picture Association. The aspiring director was selected Monday night as the winner of the MPA’s two-day Film Workshop at the Beijing International Film Festival.

Shao took part in the MPA’s screenwriting workshop and pitch competition with another 30 young Chinese filmmakers from Beijing-based studios and the Beijing Film Academy, along with a handful of emerging talents from countries that have official co-production treaties with China, including Australia, New Zealand, France and Singapore.

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The program gave the selected filmmakers a chance to workshop their screenplays and attend presentations from a panel of experienced industry pros from China and the Western entertainment industry. Presenters included co-president of Twentieth Century Fox International Paul Hanneman; J.J. Lousberg, vice president of international production at Universal Pictures; Australian producer Chris Brown (Railway Man), Australian director Pauline Chan (33 Postcards), Pang Hong, producer of Chinese hit Painted Skin II, and Chinese director Xue Xiaolu, among others.

In addition to screenwriting fundamentals, the MPA event also sought to address the question that remains most vexing to industry professionals engaged in the region: What’s the best working model for film collaborations between China and the rest of the world? Topics of panel discussions included: co-production business models; the benefits of co-productions vs. single country productions; current co-production case studies; and how to deliver quality 3D projects for the country’s rapidly expanding digital exhibition infrastructure.

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“I was fortunate to participate in the first MPA workshop back in 2006," said speaker and mentor Xue Xiaolu (writer/director of current Chinese box-office hit, Finding Mr. Right). Since then I have watched with delight as the film industry in China has matured in so many ways, and my career has blossomed along with it. I am happy once again to be involved with the MPA Film Workshop where I get the opportunity to share my experiences, meet old friends and participate in a healthy debate on how we can best stimulate the film industry and help it succeed in the future.”

Shao won the feature film pitch competition with her project The Song From Sun Village, which tells the story of a young boy taken in by villagers who care for children whose parents are imprisoned. The boy forms a choir with the other prison orphans in an attempt to communicate with his mother, who is behind bars.

As winner, Shao will be flown to Los Angeles to join an MPA-sponsored comprehensive immersion course in filmmaking in November.  

Chan,   writer, director and producer of the Chinese-Australian feature 33 Postcards, said: “I was impressed by the high standard of the projects presented to us during the competition. Congratulations to all of the filmmakers for participating, and well done to Shao Xuan for her successful presentation. I have no doubt that the experience that awaits in Los Angeles will be a career-defining one.”