Los Angeles to Host U.S.-China Film and TV Expo in Spring 2014

Antonio Villaraigosa - 25th Annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles - P - 2009
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The event, announced in Beijing by former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, aims to cultivate cooperation between the U.S. and China industries.

Despite occasional setbacks, such as non-payment of box office receipts, the relationship between China and Hollywood is growing in closeness, as the Chinese industry looks to benefit from Hollywood's movie-making experience and the U.S. seeks access to what is now the world's second-largest movie market.

Next spring the Los Angeles Convention Center will host the inaugural U.S.-China Film and TV Industry (UCFTI) Expo, which the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board hopes will help forge closer relations between the world's biggest movie industry and the young pretender, China.

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Some 2,500 industry figures are expected to attend the event.

"The UCFTI is an opportunity for the cross fertilization of talent and expertise creating a platform around the business side of the industry," said former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who launched the expo at an event in Beijing.

Although he didn't show up at the launch, the event has been given the official blessing of Han Sanping, head of the powerful China Film Group, and a message from him was read to the assembled Chinese press corps.

The UCFTI Expo will be the first and biggest-ever showcase of the dual film and TV industries of the U.S. and China, and will comprise film and television industry chain fairs, a TV shows and episodes fair and video seminars, as well as joint development and production projects.

"This March 5-6 in the L.A. Convention Center will be our first, but we expect it will be an annual event that will grow in importance over time," said Villaraigosa, who left office in June after eight years as mayor.

"We've had film festivals, and they are important, but when I was walking the red carpet for the Emmys or Academy Awards or Grammys, I used to say the jobs behind the camera were more important than the people in front," said Villaraigosa.

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The goal is to connect the United States and China in the field of the film and television industry, to build a professional platform for the industries and to develop relationships among professionals for trade, exchange, training and cooperation.

Ernest Wooden Jr., president and CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, spoke of the high regard that L.A. is held by the Chinese industry, a fact underlined by the country's new president Xi Jinping, who called it the epicenter of U.S.-China cultural relations during his visit there last year.

"This makes L.A. an exciting destination for continued cultural exchanges and the best city to further develop film industry relationships. We in L.A. have watched the Chinese industry grow to the second largest in the world. Through the 2014 UCFTI Expo we hope to create an unprecedented opportunity for the movers and shakers in the U.S. and Chinese film and TV industries," said Wooden.

"We also want to create a platform for industry professionals to seek co-production opportunities. Los Angeles is ready to roll out the red carpet. I look forward to this Expo presenting a major breakthrough for both the Chinese and U.S. film and TV industries," he said.

The launch was also attended by UCFTI CEO, filmmaker Bianca Chen and Zhou Yi, vice chairman of the Expo's China organizing committee.                    

"This is an opportunity for Americans to get to know a great country," said Villaraigosa.