Panel touts Europe-Asia relationship

Filmart looks at co-productions in film, TV

HONG KONG -- The first morning of Filmart featured a TV Europe/Asia: A New Era for TV & Film Cooperation panel which took a broad look at topics from the growth of the Chinese market to international public service broadcasting.

Olivier-Rene Veillon from the Ile de France Film Commission explained how they had attracted productions from Korea, Japan, India, and China to shoot in the Paris area, including arranging collaborations with museums such as the Louvre, before launching into an energetic pitch aimed squarely at the Chinese market.

He went on to detail a new 20% tax credit rebate available for any film made in the region, citing Fuji TV's "Nodame Cantabile" as the first feature to have taken advantage of the arrangement.

"There is also a 14 million Euro fund dedicated to productions of any nationality that are made in the region," Veillon said.

Tiedong Zhou, the president of China Film Production International, predictably lauded the fast growth and huge potential of the mainland market, describing how the number of screens had grown last year to 1,687 -- while boxoffice was up 42%.

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The importance of co-productions was emphasized by Zhou, who pointed that of the 49 Chinese films sold overseas last year, 38 of them were collaborations with other countries. Zhou claimed that the "very strict restrictions" surrounding co-productions with China have been greatly relaxed, though he acknowledged that a third of lead roles still have to be filled with by Chinese nationals.

Asked about the annual 20 foreign film quota for China, Zhou replied that, "This is what we have to improve," before furiously backpedaling, "Though the government is not considering changes to that. It's not for me to answer."

Nick Fraser from the BBC's Storyline international documentary outfit lamented the lack of cultural diversity on both European TV and, "even more so on Chinese TV."

"It's very difficult to do programs with people speaking to each other in their own languages, but it's something we have to try and do," Fraser said.

Fraser spoke passionately about the importance of producing documentaries without undue regard to their commercial possibilities, a position that is of course easier to take from the standpoint of a pubcaster.

He went on to explain how the difficulties in working with some Asian pubcasters due to their close ties to governments – while praising Japan's NHK as a model partner.
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