China looks to make AFM splash

Biggest-ever contingent to represent mainland industry

The American Film Market 2006 will play host to the largest delegation of Chinese film executives ever to set foot in Los Angeles, a diverse group of state-affiliated and private-sector filmmakers hoping to build international awareness of China's film industry.

State regulators, studio producers, private-sector distributors, marketing chiefs and a lineup of up-and-coming directors and actresses will be manning the China Film Promotion International suites at the Loews Santa Monica Hotel when the AFM opens Nov. 1.

"Our goal is to build up a platform for promotion and publicity of Chinese films as a whole, not just our company," said Zhou Tiedong, president of CFPI, the overseas promotion arm of the state-run movie giant China Film Group.

"CFPI is not just a company, it's a voice for the Chinese film industry," said Zhou, who was China Film Group's lead representative in Los Angeles from 1995-2005.

CFPI is fo-cusing on promoting a host of film projects. Films to be screened include "Soul Ferry," a feature by Ling Yun produced by China Film Group; "A Great Master Recaptured," a documentary about the opera legend Mei Lanfang, directed by Lan Bing and produced by the China Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio; and "Splendid Season," directed by Song Jiangbo and produced by the Changchun Film Studio.

CFPI also is armed with DVD copies of 40 other Chinese films and a bilingual catalog for buyers, Zhou said.

In addition, CFPI is showing a trailer for an unusual co-production with filmmakers from Taiwan, the self-governed island that Beijing considers a renegade province.

" 'The Knot' is a very important project for the China Film Group and SARFT," Zhou said, referring to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. A love story between a mainland Chinese and a Taiwanese, "The Knot," by mainland director Ying Li, is due for a mainland premiere in December, Zhou said.

Competing for market attention and perhaps even overshadowing some of the state-affiliated Chinese activities are Zhang Yimou's "Curse of the Golden Flower," starring Gong Li, and Feng Xiaogang's "The Banquet," starring Zhang Ziyi. Sales agents for "The Banquet" from Beijing-based Huayi Brothers Film Investment Co. Ltd. will be aggressively courting buyers.

"The Banquet" was submitted for the 2007 Oscars on behalf of Hong Kong, while "Curse," which Sony Pictures Classics picked up for North America this year, will represent mainland China.

Also in the China delegation is Avrio, a pan-Asian media marketing company represented by its Beijing-based general manager, Johnny Liu. Avrio has done much of the promotions contract work in China for Warner Bros. and other Hollywood majors.

China's delegation will host a daylong Sino-American Film Exchange and Cooperation Forum, to be moderated by veteran Hollywood producer Andre Morgan. Han Sanping, president of CFG and chairman of the Chinese Film Producers Assn., will deliver the keynote address on co-producing and marketing films with state-owned studios.

The seminar also will feature a session on the latest regulations governing foreign participation in China's film industry. The session will be led by Zhou Jiandong, the head of the production department of the Film Bureau inside SARFT.

The view from China's growing private sector will be outlined by Wang Zhongjun, CEO of Huayi Brothers Media Group ("The Banquet"), and Yu Dong, CEO of Beijing Poly Bona Film Distribution Co., the predominant nonstate film distributor on the mainland, will deliver an analysis of the industry's growth potential.

As a sideline to the market, the delegation also will screen seven Chinese films in a mini festival. Titles unspooling include Zhang Jiarui's "Huayao Bride in Shangri La," starring Zhang Jingchu; "Perhaps Love," produced by Morgan; and "A World Without Thieves," the 2005 domestic hit by Feng Xiaogang.