New network to foster Inter-Asian film co-productions

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PUSAN, South Korea -- Inter-Asian co-productions took center stage in the opening of the Asian Film Market, with the announcement of the Asian Producers Network on Saturday.

"We thought it would be good to pool our efforts, to fight the Hollywood domination of the world film market," said Jonathan Kim, president of the Korean Film Producers Association, the group managing the Asian Producers Network. "With the establishment of the
APN, we will have more opportunities to collaborate around Asia."

The goal of the APN is to create a more regular and institutional "dialogue channel" for Asian producers to meet regularly ? perhaps at three film festivals a year ? and exchange information about issues around the region. "It's all about communication," said Satoru Ogura,
a producer from Japan. "I totally agree with uniting us to raise Asian films' global competitiveness and ultimately vitalize Asia's film industries."

The APN is growing out of the Korea-China-Japan Forum that has been held for the past three years, but now organizers want to bring producers from all over Asia into their forum.

A wide range of producers around the region expressed support for APN, with people from each territory bringing different reasons. "We are a very small market," said James Toh, a producer from Singapore, "just 4.5 million people ? too small to sustain domestic films. We need exports. We need forums like this."

Whereas for Tao Jiang, an executive producer at the China Film Corporation, his emphasis was on the size and potential of the Chinese market and how it could benefit other countries. "China is not importing much now, but we are growing fast," he said.

The theme of co-productions was followed up in more depth on Sunday at a seminar dedicated to a single project, "A Battle of Wits," a $16 million war-drama set in ancient China, due to be released in late November in China and early 2007 in Korea and Japan. The movie's producers from China, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong talked about how co-productions in Asia can be different than in the West.

"When we made 'The Emperor and the Assassin' in 1998, China was not yet a large market, and we needed Americans and Europeans on board to finance it," said producer Satoru Iseki. "But for 'Battle of Wits,' I am proud of the fact it is an all-Asian production."
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