Beijing Film Festival Champions International Co-Productions

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With James Cameron and Fox chief Jim Gianopulos on hand, the second edition of the fest provides key access to the expanding Chinese market.

The second Beijing International Film Festival launched the Beijing Film Market and co-productions forums on Tuesday, following a star-studded opening ceremony on Monday that was attended by luminaries from both China and Hollywood, including director James Cameron, Avengers star Jeremy Renner, Hong Kong actor-producer Andy Lau and local auteur Ann Hui.

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Once the glitzy opening was over however, BIFF got down to business on its first full day. The Film Magic Beijing Forum, which includes the Sino-Foreign Film Co-production Forum, and Summit Forum of World-Renowned Film Companies, was kick-started with the signing of US-China co-production Gods, produced by X-Men and Transformers producer Tom DeSanto, as well as a 3D film project based on Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

Panelists, including director Cameron, Avatar producer Jon Landau, Fox Filmed Entertainment Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos, Tong Gang, head of China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, and Han Sanping, head of China film Group, discussed the opportunities presented by the rapid growth of the Chinese.

The panelists’ wishes for future co-productions came on the heels of an announcement from Beijing International Film Festival organizers that the event will see 5 billion yuan ($790 million) in contracts signed this year, a 79% rise from the 2.8 billion yuan ($444 million) at the inaugural edition of the event in 2011.

The forums were held alongside the Sino-Foreign Co-production Project Negotiation Meeting, a two-day financing event which takes place on April 24 and 25. 

While the forums and meetings are likely to bring about future co-produced projects between major Hollywood Studios and China, the backbone of the event is the festival, where 260 films from 54 countries around the world were selected. Foreign Language Oscar winner A Separation opened the festival.

Under the festival banner, the Beijing Film market also opened on Tuesday, with over 200 exhibitors, including U.S. majors Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount, Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros in attendance. Said to be the largest of its kind in China, the market aims to provide a platform for project pitching, industry project presentations, business meetings and contract signing. A sidebar to promote and develop new projects, called Project Pitch and Catch, will select three winners among 20 projects from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Bangladesh.