Beijing Officials, Chinese Film Industry Leaders to Attend U.S.-China Film Summit


While a few members of China's official film industry delegation gave the Tokyo International Film Festival a pass this week, a large group of both Beijing government officials and private Chinese film industry leaders are expected to attend the U.S.-China Film Summit in Los Angeles on Nov. 2.

Organized by The Asia Society of Southern California and the state-run China Film Co-Production Corp, the timing of the gathering of senior Chinese filmmakers and policymakers with Hollywood producers focused firmly on China's growing movie market, serves to highlight the perceived potential for business and cultural exchange.

Set to take place at the Writers Guild of America, the summit, subtitled Co-Production and Cooperation, will fall just after the Oct. 29 opening in select U.S. theaters of Feng Xiaogang's Chinese hit "Aftershock" and on the eve of the opening of the American Film Market in Santa Monica.

While China's box office is up 86% so far this year, much of that can be tied to rising ticket prices and Hollywood imports such as "Avatar" despite imports being limited to 20 a year by Beijing. Talk of co-productions that skirt the government import cap as a means to growth is at a fever pitch, especially as France, New Zealand and Singapore all signed film treaties with China in the last eight months.

"The co-production growth is clear and the change is coming, now we require a focused strategy if we're all going to succeed at working together," said Peter Shiao, chairman of media and entertainment for the Asia Society in Los Angeles, and the CEO of co-organizer The Orb Media Group. Shiao, formerly of investment outfit Iron Pond, also advises the CFCC on its web presence. Shiao pulled the summit together with sponsorship help from the University of Southern California and the L.A. law offices of Loeb and Loeb.

A panel discussion of both the regulations and macroeconomics shaping cultural and business exchange between the world's top two economies will set the stage for a second panel highlighting case studies from filmmakers whose recent co-productions, from "Karate Kid" to "The Forbidden Kingdom" to "Disney: High School Musical China," illustrate both the upside and the pitfalls of China's booming movie market laboratory.

"I hope that it'll be a thought provoking forum to really get into the weeds of the matter," said Shiao. Shiao told THR he expects the audience for the three-hour summit to be divided evenly between AFM guests, members of the WGA and the Producers Guild of America, entrepreneurs and studio representatives, and academics focused on the intersection of U.S. and Chinese culture.

Hoping the summit will avoid getting embroiled in trade politics, Shiao said he would nonetheless raise at its outset the March 2011 deadline for China to show it is moving to comply with a recent World Trade Organization ruling demanding overseas companies be allowed greater participation in China's market for copyrighted entertainment content. "We don't want to get bogged down in things we're not going to be able to solve there in the room," Shiao said.

Speakers from the Chinese delegation include Zhang Xun, president of CFCC; Yang Hongtao, president of the Ningxia Film Group; Wang Tianyun, vice president of Shanghai Film Group; Su Xiaowei, "Aftershock" writer and deputy director of the SARFT Script Center; Wang Zhongjun, chairman and CEO of Huayi Brothers Media Corp, China's only listed major film studio; Yu Dong, president of PolyBona Film Distribution Co; Wang Lifeng, president of Xing Xing Digital Corp; Zhang Zhao, president of Enlight Media; and Zhou Tiedong, president of China Film Promotion International.

Confirmed Hollywood participants include Michael Corrigan, vice chairman of Orb Media Group; Elia Infascelli of William Morris Endeavor; Bill Mechanic, founder and president of Pandemonium Films and producer of "Coraline"; Rob Minkoff, director of "The Forbidden Kingdom" and "The Lion King"; Ken Stovitz, partner at Overbrook Entertainment and producer of "The Karate Kid"; Stephen Saltzman, partner at Loeb and Loeb; James Stern, CEO of Endgame Entertainment; and Janet Yang, president of Manifest Film Co. and producer of "The Joy Luck Club" and, most recently, "Disney: High School Musical China."

The summit is co-organized by the Producers Guild of America, the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, the USC Marshall Center for International Business Education and Research and the USC U.S.-China Institute.