‘More China please’ cry at Toronto festival

As more and more Chinese movies get noticed at film festivals, there have been calls for screening of more Chinese movies in the West. The massive Chinese box office too is beginning to interest all.

“I believe different Chinese movies should be shown in the West to let more people understand Chinese stories and methods,” said Chinese film director Lou Ye. “Film festivals give films a platform to showcase works and is good for interaction between filmmakers.”

Ye brought to the Toronto International Film Festival his cryptic movie Saturday Fiction. The 10-day world film celebration began on Sept 5.

In an interview with China Daily, Lou said the international audience should watch both modern and historical themes in China, and “even though international production follows a trend, which we do not necessarily cater to, Chinese films have their own pursuits”.

Echoing Lou, Chinese actress Gong Li said Chinese movies should participate in more international exchanges, even if they don’t win prizes. “I hope I can also drive young actors to internationalization and set an example for them,” Gong said. “The problem is that Chinese film investors are desperate for quick success and instant benefits from films.” Gong gained global fame through her collaborations with Chinese director Zhang Yimou.

China’s total box office in 2018 was over $60 billion, the second largest after North America. That makes the Chinese movie industry the new engine for world cinema. However, many say, the Chinese movie industry’s influence doesn’t match its economic globalization and Chinese film producers who want to go global still have a long way to go.

According to Lisa Lin, chairman of the Chinese Film & Production Exhibition Committee, the Chinese film industry has begun emerging in recent years, encouraging a large number of film companies, producers and directors to go global. “We have invited dozens of extraordinary Chinese film companies, which came with many well produced movies,” Lin told China Daily.

“Through these wonderful movies, narrating beautiful Chinese stories, Chinese filmmakers have demonstrated their enthusiasm and professionalism. The talented people behind these movies are looking for communication opportunities with filmmakers from other countries.”

CFPEC vice-chairman Chen Weizhong said a group of French, Australian and Hungarian film producers visited the committee’s booth at the Toronto film festival, showing their interest in Chinese films and production. “They were looking for the possibility of co-production, whether they can distribute domestic films to China or work with Chinese film investors,” Chen said.

According to TIFF’s director of government and foundation relations Alan Convery, 12 films from China were in TIFF’s lineup.

“Thank you for bringing Chinese movies to the world and of course, we count on your support for opening Chinese doors even more enthusiastically to Canadian-made films,” Convery told the crowd at a Beijing International Film Festival promotion event during TIFF.

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