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Bright future predicted for film industry

DESPITE the economic downturn, the Chinese film market is on the rise, and its diversity, plus good marketing and distribution, are considered the engines for its future growth, industry experts said yesterday in Shanghai.

A film seminar yesterday afternoon, part of this week's 12th Shanghai International Film Festival, gathered acclaimed Chinese film makers Lu Chuan, Wang Xiaoshuai, Ning Hao and Wei Te-sheng to discuss what type of films the domestic market wants.

"Film audiences usually watch movies either for fun or for inspiration," said Lu, known for his award-winning film "Kekexili: Mountain Patrol."

"The industry needs more diverse, medium-budget films in addition to martial arts blockbusters."

Taiwanese director Wei, whose romance "Cape No. 7" was a box office hit in Taiwan, said new story°?-telling methods would also play an important role in Chinese cinema.

The nation's movie theaters took in 4.2 billion yuan (US$614 million) last year, a 26.7 percent increase from 2007. The nationwide box office for domestic films was 2.56 billion yuan - more than 60 percent of the box office total.

In the eyes of domestic film producers, the current global financial crisis presents Chinese films with an opportunity to excel.

"The golden decade of Chinese cinema is approaching as the market's huge potential and lower production costs will drive collaborations between the Chinese and foreign film industries," said Yu Dong, president of Poly Bona, a Beijing-based film distribution company.

In 2008, China produced 406 feature films. However, many art-house films were not released in cinemas. Without much financial support, there are almost no art-house cinema chains in the country.

Nevertheless, Chinese film makers such as Wang have stuck to the art-house genre for years.

"Movies are not just for entertainment. A good, thought-provoking film will touch the depths of your heart," Wang said. "The domestic film industry should respect this genre."

The film festival is a platform for Chinese directors and actors to promote new productions. Two biographical action films, "Ip Man 2" by Wilson Yip and "Mulan" by Jingle Ma, were hoping to be picked up by global distributors, touting their stunning kung fu fight scenes and simple story lines. Production of the two movies is under way.

Actress Zhang Ziyi was promoting her latest comedy romance, "Sophie's Revenge." Zhang is both the producer and the heroine of the film, which is about a woman's efforts to win back her ex-boyfriend.

Yesterday's schedule also included "Australia Perspective," an Australian film exhibition, and a public screening of Yao Shuhua's "Empire of Silver," a film vying for the Golden Goblet award.


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