Beijing Screenings opens in Chinese capital

Chinese film sales showcase starts run on boxoffice boom

BEIJING -- The 13th edition of the Beijing Screenings (Oct. 27-30), a Chinese film sales showcase, got underway Tuesday with a prediction that movie production in the world's most populous nation is set for another increase.
 
The forecast was made by Zhang Pimin, the former Xi'an Studio chief who was recently elevated to the position of vice-minister in charge of film at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.
 
"2008 saw production reach 406 films, now in October it seems certain that we will substantially exceed that figure this year," Zhang said.
 
But expanding the diversity of genres produced is also an issue for some buyers. "Europeans are not interested in costume dramas from China anymore," Wolfgang Wilke of Germany's Action Concept said.
 
Wilke said he was looking for unusual action stories that could fit into late-night European television slots or into arthouse cinemas. His company recently bought French and German DVD rights to Dong Shen's vigilante story "Underdog Knight" from Asian Union.
 
Zhang, who also welcomed Motion Picture Association president Bob Pisano and executives from the major Hollywood studios, said that the Chinese industry is gradually opening up. "This is Chinese government policy and it is our ambition to co-operate with the rest of the world."
 
In a Tuesday afternoon presentation closed to the foreign press, including The Hollywood Reporter, Pisano spoke to a small group of Chinese producers about the importance of storytelling at the center of Hollywood moviemaking, according to one Chinese reporter who was in the room.
 
Hungarian producer Istvan Juhasz said he hopes to use the event to find a Chinese co-production partner for a Canadian-Russian co-produced feature film about Hungarian architect Laszlo Hudec, whose early 20th century buildings still shape the skyline of modern-day Shanghai. He was in Beijing for the third time Tuesday, having previously made several documentaries about China for Hungarian television.
 
The four-day Screenings involve the showing of 60 recent movies, the involvement of 100 foreign distributors and festival programmers specially flown in for the event and a string of side activities.
 
These include an hour of film trailers, a workshop on co-production with Europe and an all-day seminar Thursday on the perception, potential and promotion of Chinese movies in international markets.
 
Most of the movies at the showcase are represented at international markets by China Film Promotion International, the sales arm of China Film Group. But a handful of titles are represented by other sellers and have traveled to high-profile international festivals. These include Emperor Motion Pictures' "Forever Enthralled" which premiered in Berlin, Media Asia's "City of Life and Death," which went to Toronto and won the top prize at the San Sebastian film festival, and Distribution Workshop's "Wheat," which was in Toronto and Pusan.
 
For anyone visiting China that hadn't already watched "The Founding of a Republic," an all-star propaganda extravaganza produced for the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic, the Screenings also include multiple opportunities to catch up.
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