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Beijing Screenings open with 'Monkey'

Four-day sales event begins Sept. 7

BEIJING -- An annual showcase of movies made inside China’s state-run studio system will begin on Tues. with “City Monkey,” a feature about a Beijing parkour enthusiast, at a time when the home boxoffice is hot but local filmmakers continue to struggle to attract overseas buyers.

The 14th Beijing Screenings opening feature, by Kong Lingchen, follows a high school senior whose mother worries his obsession with free-running through Beijing’s urban jungle will interfere with studying for his college entrance exams.

The Screenings will show a total of 60 new Chinese films over four days and nights beginning Sept. 7., hosted by the state-run China Film Group, its sales arm, China Film Promotion International, and the China Movie Channel, which owns and operates the dedicated film platform of the state TV broadcaster, China Central Television, and two film-focused pay TV channels.

“A must-attend trade event for international film buyers and international film festival programmers to watch and select Chinese movies,” proclaimed the Beijing Screenings invitation sent out by Tong Gang, head of China's Film Bureau, the nation's industry regulator, Han Sanping, the head of CFG, Yan Xiaoming, the head of the China Movie Channel, and Yang Buting, the head of CFPI.

Among those few global guests expected to attend the event – sandwiched as it is in between the big Western film markets in Venice and Toronto -- will be Esther Yeung, the director of marketing and Asian acquisitions for the region’s biggest foreign film sales company, Fortissimo Films of Hong Kong. Yeung will be accompanied by Lemon Lim, Fortissimo’s director of distribution.

Also attending is Mike Ellis, the Asian regional manager for the Motion Picture Association, in Beijing to represent the interests of the Hollywood studios, and political science Professor Stanley Rosen, a Chinese film specialist and the director of the East Asian Studies Center at the University of Southern California.

“City Monkey” director Kong is a graduate of The Central Academy of Drama whose 2007 documentary “Listen to Me,” was selected by the Hawaii International Film Festival won the Best Documentary Award of New York Independent Film Festival.

Director Zhang Yang’s “Driverless” is among the other films screening -- mostly at the Broadway Cinema owned by “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” producer Bill Kong in the downtown Beijing shopping mall called Oriental Plaza.

Zhang’s debut film “Spicy Love Soup” was the first independent Chinese film to succeed at the boxoffice and went on to compete at the 1998 Tokyo International Film Festival. His 2005 film “Sunflower” won best director and best cinematography awards at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

Also on the list of screenings “Confucius,” a film starring Chow Yun-fat as the ancient sage. Generally regarded as a flop at home, “Confucius” has made few sales into major territories overseas.