China, New Zealand filmmakers move closer

MOU a step towards film co-production treaty

BEIJING -- A delegation of filmmakers from Auckland, New Zealand, and a group of Chinese filmmakers have agreed to host more Chinese film productions in the New Zealand city, a potential step toward a widely-expected film co-productions treaty between the two countries.
The agreement struck Sunday in Beijing during a week-long trip by the Auckland delegation in China comes alongside a New Zealand Film Festival in China led by Bob Harvey, mayor of Waitakere City, and Pete Rive, a Film Auckland board member.
"This is an extremely heartening move that will ensure greater communications, co-operation and co-productions between the Chinese and New Zealand film industries,” Film Auckland Executive Manager Michael Brook said in a statement.
The Kiwis’ Chinese partner in the memorandum of understanding, the China Film Association, is a non-governmental professional body with a membership of 6,000 that advocates for China's growing film industry. Boxoffice in China jumped 43% in 2009 to $909 million, and as is on track to outpace that growth again this year.
"China’s interest in film is growing at a rapid rate, which gives New Zealand access to a very large and lucrative potential market. Chinese producers are already actively looking at New Zealand for production partners," Brook said.
The New Zealand Film Festival will travel this month to Beijing, Ningbo and Shanghai, where it will coincide with the Shanghai International Film Festival, which runs June 12-20.
The Kiwi delegation was organized by Waitakere City Council and Jim He of the Pacific Culture and Arts Exchange Centre, with support from Film Auckland.
The MOU and the Kiwi festival, combined with visits to the SIFF and the ongoing Shanghai World Expo 2010 will pave the way for future co-productions between the two countries, Brook said.
The MOU comes as the result of three years of work by Film Auckland and members of the Asia Pacific Producer's Network, a group of 80 senior producers from around the Asia-Pacific region who meet annually to promote cooperation and co-productions, the statement said.
"Film Auckland has been working behind the scenes to ensure that a co-production treaty with China will happen soon. This will support several projects that New Zealand producers are developing," the statement said.
Brook said the New Zealand government believes that Kiwi films could boost tourism and trade beyond the film business they generate.
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