AFM: Taiwan to Introduce $2.5 Million in Grants For Co-Productions (Exclusive)

Taiwan-born director Ang Lee made Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with Li-Kong Hsu

$1.5 million is for co-productions, while $1 million is to aid promotion

Taiwan will introduce $2.5 million in grants from the start of next year to encourage international movie co-productions to come to the self-ruled island and to help with promotion, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively. 

"We have a new policy to welcome more and more international co-productions happening in Taiwan. We have a new grant especially for international crew to come to Taipei. We have a grant of $1.5 million from January 1," says Jennifer Jao, director of the Taipei Film Commission. "We also have the promotion panel to help co-production. If the production happens in Taipei, we will help you do the marketing. That grant is $1 million."

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The grant will be officially launched at the Taiwan Cinema Party at the American Film Market.

She was speaking at the launch of two Taiwanese films, Khan Lee's Dream Flight and Baby Steps by director Barney Cheng.

Taiwan has been self-ruled since Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang nationalists lost the Chinese civil war with Chairman Mao Zedong’s Communists and fled across the strait of Taiwan in 1949. While the two are bitter rivals, and China considers Taiwan a renegade province, relations have become closer in recent years under the presidency of Ma Ying-jeou.

Taiwanese cinema has been on a roll since Wei Te-shen's 2008 hit, Cape No. 7, which took more than $20 million in box office. And Luc Besson shot much of his Scarlett Johannson-starring sci-fi action thriller Lucy in Taiwan.

Taiwan's movie business is often overshadowed by the much-bigger Mainland Chinese market, even though arguably the most successful Chinese director of all, Ang Lee, is from Taiwan.

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Both Taiwan and mainland China speak Mandarin Chinese, and Taiwanese stars like Jay Chou are much in demand across the Strait of Taiwan.

Neither Dream Flight, which tells a story of a fighter pilot, nor Baby Steps, which is about a gay couple who go for a surrogate baby, are likely to get past censors in China. While this will hurt revenues, Jao believes it is important that Taiwan makes the movies it wants.

"We cannot compromise ourselves because of the China market. It's really important to the next generation," she said.

Baby Steps is backed by the legendary Taiwanese producer Li-Kong Hsu, who produced Ang Lees breakthrough movie The Wedding Banquet, Eat Drink Man Woman and also did Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with the two-time Oscar-wining Lee, who was born in Taiwan.

Baby Steps producer Stephen Israel hailed Taiwan as a place to make movies and congratulated the island on its first gay film festival.

"It's leading the charge in Asia. The crews were fantastic and a fantastic level of precision. Good to see you've got a thriving film community there," said Israel.