From the producer Xia Wen: Young film festivals inject fresh blood into the film industry

At the international film festivals, young filmmakers are becoming a new landscape that cannot ignore. In particular, in recent years, the performance of young filmmakers from China at the film festivals has been even more remarkable.

Recently, I interviewed a young Chinese producer Xia Wen. She has participated in many film festivals including the China International Film Festival London, the Beijing International Film Festival and the Beijing Youth Film Festival. As a participant in the film industry and a witness to the film festival, she is very experienced.

 

 

From film reporter Xu Fei: film festivals are an incentive

The film festival is not only a grand event for film creators but also for the media. Every year, many journalists around the world are rushing to report on the film festival and the film industry. So what is the film festival in their eyes?

Recently, I interviewed Xu Fei, a reporter on the Chinese film industry’s ace show “China Film Report.” Since she started her career, she has been reporting on the film industry and has experienced many film festivals in person. As a journalist, she is both a bystander and a participant in the film industry. Regarding the film festival, she has some experiences to share.

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(Xu Fei in the interview (first from left))

Q: What international film festivals have you participated?
Xu: Tokyo International Film Festival,Beijing International Film Festival, Silk Road International Film Festival, BRICS Film Festival.

Q: In recent years, how is the influence of Chinese films at major film festivals?
Xu: The number of Chinese filmmakers and films participating in the international film festivals has increased. On the whole, more people know about Chinese movies and understand the status quo of the Chinese film industry. However, China still needs award-winning works with international influence, and we must strive to let more foreign audiences learn more about classic Chinese movies.

Q: What do you think of the “carpet star” phenomenon that has been discussed by audiences?
Ps. Carpet Star is a particular celebrity phenomenon in China. Many of carpet stars claim to have various brands or official invitations so they could walk on the red carpet. However, no film they participated selects in the film festival. Most of them want to take advantage of the film festival to win exposure opportunities for yourself with the help of film festivals.
Xu: The essential core of the filmmakers should still focus on the work. The carpet star can only attract a moment of attention. Some of the filmmakers who specialize in marketing themselves can open their popularity through the red carpet exposure and even take a certain position in the fashion industry, but the red carpet is just an exposure opportunity. Without the follow-up efforts, most carpet stars can only stop as a carpet star.

Q: What role do you think the film festival plays in the creative career of a filmmaker?
Xu: I think the film festival is an incentive for filmmakers. At the festival, filmmakers can communicate with film creators from different countries, exchange ideas about movies, and even find new project opportunities. This is a kind of learning and development for them. If their films can short-list, it is a kind of encouragement and affirmation for them. If they can win the award, they also can increase their popularity.

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(Xu Fei in the film festival)

Xu Fei, a reporter from CCTV-6 “China Film Report.”
“China Film Report” is the ace of the CCTV-6 movie channel. The program mainly provides the audience with professional news reports on the Chinese film industry and news such as movie trends. Beginning in 2004, Forbes used the content of the “China Film Report” as an important reference data for the statistical star exposure of its “China Mainland Celebrity List.”

From the producer Xia Wen: Young film festivals inject fresh blood into the film industry

At the international film festivals, young filmmakers are becoming a new landscape that cannot ignore. In particular, in recent years, the performance of young filmmakers from China at the film festivals has been even more remarkable.

Recently, I interviewed a young Chinese producer Xia Wen. She has participated in many film festivals including the China International Film Festival London, the Beijing International Film Festival and the Beijing Youth Film Festival. As a participant in the film industry and a witness to the film festival, she is very experienced.

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(Xia Wen)

Q: Referring to “film festival,” what is the first word that you think?
Xia: Judge.
Letting a film show at an international film festival is complicated. We have completed the work of the production part, and then it is a process of judging by professionals and audiences. Of course, the judgment is fair and authoritative. Regardless of the outcome, we must understand our shortcomings and see the strengths of others through the process so that we can make better films.

Q: What role do you think the film festival plays in the creative career of a filmmaker?
Xia: Festival is a glory and a recognized resonance for creators.
The process of creation is lonely. However, the film festival is fair and solemn. It could let us know that it is not alone when you create, and someone will guide you and give you corresponding glory for your efforts, especially for behind-the-scenes workers.
Meanwhile, we also hope to communicate with more practitioners. The film festival provides an excellent platform for us to learn from each other and compete with each other.

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(Emperor’s Holidays, Xia Wen participated in the film, released in 2015, China)

Q: In recent years, many people criticize the three major film festivals in Europe are “out of time.” In contrast, many young film festivals increasingly favored by the film industry. What do you think?
Xia: First, I am pleased that the young film festivals are very popular, which means that the film industry has more inclusiveness for movies. The young film festivals not only give new filmmakers more opportunities, but also allow the talents of new filmmakers not to be buried, and injects fresh blood into the film industry.
The European film festivals are not “outdated,” but their strong cultural heritages have mistaken for “lack of creativity” after being hit by the new elements of the current film. I think that they are the most substantial support for our young filmmakers.

Q: Many film festivals have set up their funds to support new directors. Have you participated in some support projects?
Xia: Recently, I have a film that I wrote the script myself entered the venture capital program at the Changchun Film Festival this year.
I have heard that some VC projects were successful, and some failed. This is normal. Investment is inherently risky, and the process of filmmaking as teamwork is more dangerous. In particular, filmmaking teams are often new teams formed by a project, and the operations are sometimes not stable enough.
I suggest that the festival fund can pay more attention to projects created by the solid team so that the risk is lower and the fund can develop in a long line.

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(Xia Wen in Changchun Film Festival, China, 2018)

Xia Wen, born in Xi’an, Shanxi Province in 1990, mainly participated in the films: My Robot Boyfriend, Good Morning Princess, Emperor’s Holidays, The Eight Doors of the Golden Compass.

Prosperous Sundance Film Festival and the increasingly serious independent film dilemma

When it comes to the Sundance Film Festival, the first reaction of most people is the excellent independent film. However, the serious brain drain problem in independent films in recent years is exclaiming: Can we still see independent films in the future?

Independent films have been hailed as the forefront of the entertainment industry, and their collaboration with online video sites such as YouTube and Netflix has been relishing. Whereas, the growing online broadcast platforms are also eroding the independent film industry – and it seems that an increasing number of independent filmmakers are turning to work in the television industry.

The Sundance Film Festival is the world’s premier independent film festival, a film festival dedicated to independent filmmakers, designed to encourage low-cost, independently produced films that express a different purpose than Hollywood movies. The influence in North America is second only to the Oscars and the Golden Globes. Many excellent works such as “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Fruitvale Station” and ” Whiplash ” have all attracted attention from the festival.

Reed Martin, the author of the independent production guide Reel Truth, acknowledges that people’s dream now is to write and direct a movie, show it in Sundance, and then use this qualification to become the master of primetime TV shows, such as Lena Dunham, or Become a TV presenter or director. In this way, it is more cost-effective to make a movie from the movie to the hottest TV circle than to spend time and money to make a movie that I don’t know if I can sell it. Therefore, some people think that the prosperity of the Sundance Film Festival is only a false prosperity. Independent filmmakers flock here, expecting not only to find a good seller for their movie but also to find a good boss for themselves.

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(Sundance Film Festival)

In the West, the brain drain of the independent film industry is worrying, while in China, independent film is a hot concept.

At the Sundance Film Festival in 2018, “Dead Pigs”, directed by the young director from China, Yan Yuxi, won the best group drama of the world drama film unit, and also made the world see China’s independent film.

In China, independent films are still an official reluctance to mention, however, the concept that is highly respected for ordinary. China’s independent film themes are various. An interesting example is that Gansu youth Li Ruizhen chose the villagers in his village to be actors. This purely original film has made a big splash at the festival, and it has made the entire backward northwestern region of China know what is called an independent film.

Under the current censorship system in China, many movies are destined to be filmed and released. But this can not suppress the desire of young directors to express. In this land, young directors are not only obsessively telling stories they want to tell, but also trying to host an independent film festival in China. The FIRST Youth Film Festival held in Xining, Qinghai is one of the most representative ones. It has been held for more than ten years. The independent film The Coffin in the Mountain is well known through this film festival and becomes the phenomenal level work of the year.

 

References

Barnes, B. (2015). Small Screen Is Big Player at Sundance. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/22/arts/television-becomes-a-force-at-sundance-film-festival.html?_ga=2.92861085.1013888452.1534739941-290825188.1526705184

Chai, ZW. (2018). The next break of the independent film. Retrieved from http://dajia.qq.com/blog/438795036261923.html

Sun, JJ and Wen, XY. (2015). Hollywood is giving way to the television industry?. Retrieved from http://news.mtime.com/2015/09/08/1546620-all.html

Teng, C. (2018). Sundance Film Festival has a Chinese face. Retrieved from http://art.ifeng.com/2018/0201/3405974.shtml

Turn, K. (2016). Sundance: From buzzy to under-the-radar, a festival for every film fan. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-sundance-wrap-up-20160201-column.html

 

Multiculturalism:Asia films in MIFF

On August 5, 2018, I watched the Asian film Burning directed by Lee Chang-Dong, a Korean director, at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne.

The film that won the FIPRESCI Competition at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival also won praise at the Melbourne International Film Festival. After the movie was over, the applause thundered, and many people didn’t even want to miss the ending song.

The original author of Burning is Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, and the director and starring are Koreans. Therefore, the film is a movie that full of East Asian emotions. A pure East Asian film like Burning seems to be in a cold reception in a theater dominated by Western audiences. However, the film screening scene is not only packed, but the number of non-Asian viewers is even more.

This may be explained from one side that Asian film has become a force that cannot be underestimated at the Melbourne International Film Festival and even the Australian film market.burning.jpg

(From the film Burning)

In the wave of globalization, Asian filmmakers are happy to choose MIFF as their way to showcase their Australian fans. According to the statistics of related websites, there are 29 Asian films participating in the festival, and many of them have exerted great influence at some international film festivals and local and overseas markets. The Film Festival Organizing Committee also expressed strong welcome to Asian films. As early as 2013, the official spokesman of the festival publicly welcomed the arrival of Chinese director Jia Zhangke “What excites me the most is the Cannes Best Screenplay Award film “A Touch of Sin”, directed by Jia Zhangke…we are very honored to invite Jia Zhangke and Zhao Tao to attend the Melbourne Film International Festival. This is the first trip to Australia for this couple of filmmakers.”

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(Jia Zhangke and Zhao Tao)

The popularity of Asian films in the Australian market is inseparable from the fact that more and more Asian immigrants have come to Australia in recent years.

According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as of December 31, 2016, the population of Australia has reached 24.4 million. Compared with 5 years ago, there were 1.3 million more immigrants in Australia, of which 191,000 were from China and 163,000 were from India. The UK is still the largest language in Australia, but Mandarin (2.5%) is second.

The arrival of Asian immigrants also brings a unique Asian culture. The Australian government has been pursuing multiculturalism, which to a certain extent allows Asian immigrants to retain their own culture and, on this basis, maintain an equal and peaceful exchange with Australian native culture. In the collision between the two cultures, the two cultures are mutually acceptable. As an important part of cultural exchanges, the recognition of Asian films in the local market fully demonstrates the strong will of Australian natives to understand different cultures.

MIFF began in 1952 and has been positioning itself as “an Australian cultural icon which has had an essential role in putting Melbourne on the national and international cultural map”. As one of the local cultural events, the attitude of that the Melbourne International Film Festival welcomes and accepts Asian films reflects the intentions of Australian fans to a certain extent, and Asian films have become more well-known through this platform.

References

Ding, WL. (2017). More Asian immigrants, Mandarin is the second largest language, Retrieved from http://www.chinanews.com/hr/2017/06-29/8264549.shtml

Gary, R. (2018). ‘Burning’: Lee Chang-dong Cannes hit sells to Palace films in Australia, NZ, Retrieved from https://thereelbits.com/2018/05/23/burning-lee-chang-dong-cannes-hit-sells-to-palace-films-in-australia-nz/

Gary, R. (2018). MIFF 2018: Asia in focus at the Melbourne international film festival, Retrieved from https://thereelbits.com/2018/07/11/miff-2018-asia-in-focus-at-the-melbourne-international-film-festival/

MIFF. (2018). Our Purpose. Retrieved from http://miff.com.au/about

Tencent Entertainment. (2013). Jia Zhangke and Zhao Tao will bring “A Touch of Sin” to the Melbourne International Film Festival, Retrieved from http://ent.qq.com/a/20130726/014752.htm