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June 18, 2011

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Chinese movie industry on roll

GOOD times lie ahead for the Chinese film industry, film makers and industry insiders predicted yesterday at a forum at the 14th Shanghai International Film Festival.

The panel highlighted easier financing and a wide range of media platforms as crucial in boosting the domestic industry.

Acclaimed American film maker Barry Levinson, Chinese mainland film maker Wang Quan'an, British director Hugh Hudson, and film critic Derek Elley shared their perspectives and expectations in a forum titled "Is Quality Filmmaking Still Possible in a Media-saturated Age?"

"Very few people told visual stories before," said Levinson. "Now we have small cameras, and anyone can tell a story."

He noted that the boom in other media outlets such as television, the Internet and cellphones provides alternative methods of film screening.

"I saw 'Casablanca' and many other classics on television for the first time," Levinson added. "Film works on any screen, not just on the big screen."

The panel agreed that technological changes may largely influence the tastes and viewing habits of today's audience, but storytelling is always the foundation of a movie.

Young directors need to keep their originality in the story, their unique perception of the world and their belief in film, they stressed.

Professionals also considered it the best of times for filmmaking in China. In the West many directors find it hard to get investment for movies, while in China, one of the fastest-growing film markets in the world, financing seems the least problem.

Chinese film makers were advised to be more creative, less profit-motivated and to show respect for a diversity in the Chinese cinema.

Wang Quan'an noted that, like many art house film makers in China, he has to resist the temptation of the huge profits generated from making a commercial blockbuster.

"Chinese directors have to balance art and commerce and develop a sense of social responsibility, otherwise the more money they earn, the less fun and sense of fulfilment they get from filmmaking," Wang said.

The experts said China's film investment environment is still maturing, with only a few genres - such as the ancient martial arts epics - chosen by Chinese directors seeking international box office profits.

"The Chinese film industry is set to undergo unprecedented development in the next 10 years. Change must be in the right direction," Wang added.


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