India, China to Explore Film, TV Co-Production Pact

Jackie Chan at the opening ceremony of New Delhi's inaugural Chinese Film Festival.
Jackie Chan at the opening ceremony of New Delhi's inaugural Chinese Film Festival.
 

NEW DELHI -- India and China will set up a joint working group for film and television following a meeting between senior government officials from both countries. The meeting took place on Tuesday ahead of the inauguration of the first Chinese Film Festival in New Delhi, organized by the Indian government's Directorate of Film Festivals.

The six-day festival was launched by Jackie Chan, Indian Minister for Information & Broadcasting Manish Tewari and Chinese Minister of State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) Cai Fuchao, among other dignitaries. The festival's opening film was Chan's latest release Chinese Zodiac, which also stars actresses Zhang Lan Xin and Yao Xingtong.

The working group will look at options for co-production agreements between India and China to facilitate the shooting of films in each other's countries, exchange of trained personnel and exchange of more movies and television shows. In recent years, India has signed co-production treaties with the U.K., Italy, Brazil and Germany.

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The potential market for Indian content in China has made some headway in recent years, such as the release of hit comedy 3 Idiots (2009) in China, and a few television dramas that have aired on Chinese television.

“I believe that considering the popularity of Indian films in China, that there will be more exposure for Indian films in China in the future, and vice-versa. I am confident that this interaction with our Chinese counterparts will prove to be fruitful and the two countries look forward to an agreement on co-production in films, radio and television,” said Tewary. “An audio-visual agreement would not only promote our shooting locations, but will also boost film-related tourism between the two countries and hence pave the way for more vibrant people-to-people contact,” he added.

“Chinese movies would offer an opportunity for Indian audiences to be acquainted with Chinese landscape, arts, music and culture,” said Fuchao, further adding that this would also “enable citizens of both nations to view the Indo-China relationship from a broader perspective. ”
 
With 2014 being observed as the “Year of Exchanges” between India and China, next year's International Film Festival of India held in Goa will accord China the status of Principle Guest Country.

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Among the key highlights of the discussions between Tewary and Fuchao, along with senior officials of the I&B Ministry and SAPPRFT, was the decision to enhance student exchange programs between the Film and Television Institute of India and the Beijing Film Academy.

But, like Holllywood, India is also asking for easier access to the Chinese market, in light of the fact that only three Indian films have released theatrically in China, including Reliance Entertainment's 3 Idiots.

“China is still a closed market for non-U.S. movies and only the big event Hollywood films get through as the studios design productions specifically for Chinese release,” an executive with a leading Bollywood banner told The Hollywood Reporter, adding, “The prices offered for Indian films are negligible as the distributors aren't sure if the film will get cleared by Chinese authorities, so anything they pay could be lost.”

With a distributor often making a mere 20 percent share after deducting the share for the exhibitor, (importing body) China Film Group and local taxes “the pie has too many pieces to be shared and the last person to see any overflows is the producer. For now a Chinese release of an Indian film is more news than being financially beneficial. Let's see if this changes going forward,” he added.

Meanwhile, the ongoing Shanghai Film Festival is seeing a new high of 18 Indian movies being screened at the event to mark the centenary of Indian cinema. These range from the first Indian movie Raja Harishchandra, to recent Bollywood blockbusters such as India's 2012 Oscar entry Barfi!, comedy hit Jolly LLB and Murder 3, along with three films starring star actor Aamir Khan -- Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hai and 3 Idiots. Regional Indian cinema fare includes Telegu title Eaga and Ranjana Ami Ar Ashbona in Bengali.

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