After a thrilling year of ups and downs for film professionals in China, world’s largest film market is still hard to be predictable. China’s film industry has been going through a rough time and the decreasing number of cinema visitors is seen as an indicator of the current crisis. However, the total box office number of this past Chinese New year season reached a record high of 5.8 billion RMB (which, on the other hand, was also caused by the increased ticket price). In 2018, the tremendous growth of the past years has slowed down for various reasons: enforced state control and tightened censorship, increasing prosecution of tax evasion, rising prices of production and staff costs in the film industry etc. It is an on-going process of economic stabilization and turnarounds of trends, while a growing middle class demands more sophisticated and high-quality content. As the current situation has become more and more complex, foreigners still lack substantial “behind-the-scenes”-knowledge and personal connections.
Since its creation 5 years ago, the Sino-European Producers’ Association “Bridging the Dragon” has set itself the task to encourage and facilitate the cooperation between the two film markets. As official partner of the Marché du Film in Cannes, the initiative believes in the importance of promoting knowledge and personal relationships. Producing suitable content is not only a result of a financial investment but it requires experience, mutual trust and often exchange of creative ideas. With this in mind, “Bridging the Dragon” organizes a large number of different events that go from public talks, regularly discussing the development and challenges related to the Chinese market, matchmaking get-togethers, an immersive yearly Sino-European Project lab and custom-made consultancy service for its members.
This year for the fourth time “Bridging the Dragon” in partnership with the Marché du Film will set up the so-called Sino-International Company Meetings which will be held in the afternoon on Sunday, May 19. Approximately 25 selected producers from all over the world will get the chance to meet their Chinese counterparts in order to build personal relationships and open the chance of future collaboration.
The association acknowledged a further increase in the number of applications, this time exceeding 200, and the growing quality of the companies. It shows that working with China is still an important goal for more and more players that are though aware of the long-term process and the demand of strong commitment and time-consuming efforts. Events like this are thus seen as an important step of introduction or follow up.
The selected participants present a rich array of producers recognized for their artistic or commercial successes and coming from the most diverse backgrounds. Among them are companies such as American Roadside Attractions, responsible for the release of commercial arthouse hits like “Manchester by the Sea”, Norwegian 4 1/2 Films who is currently producing Roy Andersson’s new movie “About Endlessness”, Anagram Sweden, one of Scandinavia’s leading companies, Icelandic studio Pegasus Pictures who recently co-produced with China the TV series “Legend of Kunlun”, Austrian production arm of Redbull Terra Mater Factual Studios, Spanish quality film house A Contracorriente Films as well as the leading UK studio Cinestaan with its recent success of the last Cannes-winner “Cold War”.
The same diversity is reflected in the selection of the Chinese companies that include independent production houses like Midnight Blur, trying to reach out to the international market, animation studios such as Versatile and Yi Animation filling the gap of the growing family entertainment market, but also bigger studios such as Dadi and Bona which by now see Bridging the Dragon as a useful exploration platform.
The Cannes event will have its kick-off on Saturday, May 18 with a Networking Party on the Scandinavian Terrace hosted by the Norwegian Film Institute, one of the international supporters of the association.
One thing is for sure: regardless of the challenges and the bumps, the interaction between the local Chinese industry and the rest of the world will be a process that will only increase in time with the exchange of talents, ideas and expertise. Recent trends like the interest in remakes, that follow big successes like the remake of Italian blockbuster Perfect Strangers (which achieved more than 80M Euros box office), the more and more diversified audience, that welcomes foreign indies like The Invisible Guest or Shoplifters, as well as the country’s small but growing National Alliance of Art-house Cinemas, open new doors for collaborations with foreign companies and partners. We all hope this will be the year that will show the success of some of the official co-productions that are in the pipeline. Meanwhile Bridging the Dragon will continue to further encourage the film business between China and the world to get closer to each other.
More information about Bridging the Dragon and the event: www.bridgingthedragon.com