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Film industry experts have high hopes for China-Japan co-production

Xinhua Financein TOKYO
2018-11-06 10:01

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The current expansion of cross-border film business deals between China and Japan is being hailed as one of the success stories of this year's Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), it comes as a result of the agreement made recently regarding China-Japan film co-production.

Wish You were Here, the first work co-produced after the signing of the China-Japan film co-production treaty in May this year, premiered during this years TIFF and received applause from Japanese audiences.

Another coproduced drama Cook Watanabe starts shooting during the 10-day festival. More film industry insiders from China and Japan have shown a great interest in co-production works.

The China-Japan co-production treaty has entailed mutual access to national incentives and subsidies, and created greater market access on each side.

Kenneth Bidirector of Wish You were Here, said that the treaty has greatly helped film promotion and distribution in Japan. The film, with its leading actress from China and actor from Japan, tells the story on international love and cultural conflicts between China and Japan.

Having been a fan of Japanese film since the 1970s, Bi said he has always wanted a do a story between China and Japan. Some of the films scenes have been shot in Japans Hokkaido as well as in Beijing.

We can show Japanese audiences a pretty but different China and Japan can have the access to the Chinese market, the movies producer Laura Fu said.

Given the scale of the Chinese and Japanese film markets which are the world's second and third-largest box offices respectively trailing only North America, the new treaty could have far-reaching repercussions for both nations' film industries, as well as the regional movie sector at large.

The producer of Cook Watanabe, Chikara Ito, said the treaty provides a great chance for Japanese film producers. Japans film industry, to some extent, is not very open to the outside world, and I hope more Japanese actors or actresses could seize the chance.

The treaty is also the first such co-production treaty for Japan.

The great performance of Japanese movies in China shows their growing popularity and perhaps a change in attitude.

Japans Your Name earned 83 million U.S. dollars at the Chinese box office in 2016, while Doraemon: Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kachi grabbed 21.5 million U.S. dollars.

Japanese director Shinsuke Sato, known for his work "Library War" and "Hat House", believes that there will be more and more film cooperation.

Many Chinese watch movies on the Internet or on their mobile phones. The film market is indeed full of vitality, he said. I am looking forward to working with the Chinese team.

However, not everything has gone as smoothly as the hatching of the agreement.

Both Chinese and Japanese filmmakers have recognized some potential problems that the two sides may face in film cooperation, including cultural differences. According to Kenneth Bi, its not only about the language, but also about culture and the way they work. For example, Chinese crews act more flexibly while Japanese crew-members are very methodical in their work.

Laura Fu said that overcoming cultural differences to work together requires patience. The working mode of filmmakers varies from place to place, but as long as we are aiming for the same goal and move in one direction, the difference is not so important.

Terence Chang Chia-Chen, a renowned Hong Kong director who has produced many Hollywood blockbusters and co-productions between China and U.S., said that the prospects for cooperation between China and Japan are promising, but what is lacking the most are good scripts.

"We have excellent filmmakers and advanced technology, but what we lack most is a work that can resonate with the people of both countries, the director said.

He made the remarks at the New Development of Chinese and Japanese Film Co-Production seminar, held on the the sidelines of the 31st Tokyo International Film Festival.

Also at the seminar, a well-known Japanese director of photography Katsumi Yanagijima, said that in order to effectively utilize the China-Japan film cooperation, the first and foremost problem to be solved is the structure of the bilateral cooperation. "Cooperation is not about splitting up the workload, but finding the best balance between the two sides and bringing out their respective advantages."

Terence Chang Chia-Chen believes that the best way to resolve cultural differences is to respect each other, respect differences, and focus on communication.

Geng Zhong, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Japan-China Film Festival, believes that the agreement signed by the Chinese and Japanese governments on co-production has undoubtedly reassured film industries on both sides.

It will enable more Chinese and Japanese filmmakers to engage in artistic creation without fear, so that more outstanding works will be born, Geng said.

The history of bilateral film exchanges dates back to the 1970s, when Japanese actress Komaki Kurihara became famous in China when the Japanese movie Ai to Shi was introduced to the country in 1979. She has been devoted to the cultural communication between China and Japan since then.

At the closing ceremony of China Film Week which was held on the the sidelines of this years TIFF, Kurihara said, The artistic charm of movies is of great value. The communication and exchange of Chinese and Japanese films are the practice of the oath of the permanent of peace and friendship between China and Japan.
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