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BRIDGING THE DRAGON 2021

Professionisti europei e cinesi stringono legami nell'era post-pandemia a Cannes

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- CANNES 2021: Il Sino-European Film Panel organizzato da Marché du Film e Bridging the Dragon è stato ancora una volta un successo in termini di contenuti e presenze

Professionisti europei e cinesi stringono legami nell'era post-pandemia a Cannes
Un momento del dibattito, trasmesso in diretta sia da Cannes che da Pechino

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

In the semi-virtual space, the Sino-European Film Panel organised by the Marché du Film and Bridging the Dragon was once again a success in terms of content and attendance. In collaboration with CMC Pictures, this year’s panel adopted an innovative format, with live-broadcasting from both Cannes and Beijing, and with a physical audience crowding the venue in Beijing.

The panels were kicked off on the morning of 12 July. Lu Yang, renowned Chinese director of Chinese hits such as A Writer’s Odyssey (€133 million at the Chinese box office); Benjamin Illos, selector for the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight; Gillian Zhao, president of Warner Media China; and Catherine Ying, vice-president of CMC Inc and president of CMC Pictures and Pearl Studio, gave an in-depth insight into the positioning of Chinese films in the global arena. Over the past few years, the role of China in the film market has drastically changed. Chinese films are becoming more visible, frequently appearing not only at major international festivals but for the first time on mainstream platforms and cinemas around the world. As Ying pointed out, “Chinese filmmakers keep improving their storytelling in a way that is accepted both by a local and by a global audience, creating more and more original IPs and content for the world.”

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Like other film industries around the world, China has experienced a boom in streaming after the pandemic, which has brought both opportunities and challenges to Chinese cinema. Zhao elaborated: “On one hand, the development of streaming has accelerated the internationalisation of Chinese cinema, allowing viewers to watch high-quality Chinese content anytime and anywhere; but on the other hand, it is an unprecedented challenge for theatrical film professionals.” Pressed on the emergence and popularity of streaming platforms, director Lu Yang reminded those present that we should never forget why and for whom we make films in the first place.

In the second panel, Celina Jade, a renowned Chinese actress who starred in Wolf Warriors II, China’s highest-grossing film of all time; Sandrine Brauer, veteran French producer and co-founder of think-tank Le Collectif 50/50; Yuan Yuan, scriptwriter of the 32nd Golden Rooster Award Best Feature Film winner Us and Them; Yin Rouxin, director of the recent Chinese success Sister (€110 million at the Chinese box office); and Yang Jing, founder of The ONE International Women’s Film Festival, talked about the emergence of a new generation of female professionals and female-related content in the Chinese film and TV industries recently. Like in the rest of the world, women's empowerment has become a widely discussed social topic in China as well. The film industry is now paying more attention to the growing importance of female filmmakers and their audience. The role of female characters in Chinese film and TV has changed significantly in recent years – as Yuan has observed – from selfless victims to strong, independent women. She added: “The Chinese audience is getting bored with the stereotypical female image of always being innocent and sweet. They want to see female characters with a fresh look.”

The same phenomenon has taken place on the industry side. Celina Jade observed: “In recent years, there have seemed to be as many women directors, producers and crew members in the Chinese film industry as there are in Hollywood.” With her vast experience in running a women’s film festival in China, Ms Yang shared a similar view and encouraged female film professionals to be more self-confident, as the Chinese film industry is still male-dominated. Brauer emphasised the importance of understanding the system and supporting women as they strive to break the glass ceiling.

The event continued in the morning of Tuesday 13 July with the association’s traditional Sino-International Matchmaking Meetings. Over 55 companies from all over the world crowded the online event. Among them were Alibaba Pictures Cannon Studio, a new production branch of the Chinese leader Alibaba; Bilibili, the leading online platform in China; Hengdian, owner of the biggest film studios in China, which is also involved in distribution; Pearl Studio, a leading Chinese family-entertainment studio; and renowned talent agencies like CAA and Easy Entertainment. These firms attended together with a rich array of international companies, such as major arthouse production agent Coproduction Office (France), the world's finest newsreel archive British Pathé (UK), Spanish commercial genre specialist Filmax (Spain), leading Russian animation company Wizart Animation (Russia), Berlin-based leading VFX and production house Rise Pictures (Germany), Italian company Fandango (Italy) and Red Bull’s production arm, Terra Mater Factual Studios (Austria), among many others. The aim was to support any kind of interaction between the two markets.

Judging from the enthusiasm of the participants, Chinese and international film professionals are keen to tighten their bonds in the post-pandemic era. The success of the Chinese film market in the last few months should be a sign that working together across countries, regions and cultures represents a great strategic opportunity.

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