Chinese director Feng Xiaogang inaugurated the festival together with Taiwan actress Shu Qi.
Thanks to the somewhat softened relationship between Taiwan and China, a new film festival opened up last week and will continue into late July. The Cross-Strait Exhibition – a very formal title indeed – marks the first time in history that mainland China and Taiwan are collaborating on a film promotion event. At the same time, new rules for subsidy within the Taiwanese movie industry have just been made official.
The purpose of The Cross-Strait Exhibition, which is held separately from the Taipei Film Festival running this week, is to encourage more film making exchanges between Taiwan and mainland China, especially in the areas of funding and talent.
The event takes place in four cities on both sides of the East China Sea, screening six Taiwanese films in mainland cities of Beijing and Tianjing between June 26 to July 3, followed by seven mainland productions in Taiwan’s Taipei and Taichung, between July 17-23.
The festival – organized by Taiwan’s Motion Picture Development Foundation (MPDF) and the mainland’s China Film Foundation, both private organizations with some governmental backing – is said to give both Taiwan and China a good chance of looking and learning from each other. Ma Kuo-chun, project manager with the Chinese Cross-Strait Film Association in Taipei, is quoted on Reuters:
Some China films show modern life while some are shot way out in the countryside, so lots of angles and the Taiwan audience can get to know China better. But there’s still no formal platform for showing films.
Last week, Chinese director Feng Xiaogang inaugurated the festival together with Shu Qi, Taiwan actress, recent Cannes jury member and Hong Kong-celebrity. As director and star of the opening movie, If You Are the One, (Fei Cheng Wu Rao), they strolled down the red carpet, not only as promoters of the comedy in question, but maybe also as symbols of bridging the gap between the old foes.
It has been said that this festival is to improve grass roots relations within the two movie industries. Still, one might wonder how much of grass root level movies we will see, since the industry´s governing body, the Government Information Office, has some quite harsh rules for subsidy and seems more interested in promoting mainstream box office successes.
From THR.com :
“The new rules for subsidy are intended to encourage more filmmakers to think commercially,” said Jennifer Jao, director of the Taipei Film Commission. Although there were some 36 films made locally last year, so far no 2009 Taiwan film release has hit the $1.08 million mark that would trigger the automatic payout.
Admittedly, the rules were recently softened: last week the GIO detailed its plans to bring its box office incentive scheme within reach of more films. From now on, locally produced films or those with a Taiwanese director will be eligible for a 20% subsidy if their box office revenue in Taiwan exceed $435,000.
The Taiwan movie industry is more than 90% dominated by Hollywood fare, whereas local films tend to be art house pictures mostly aiming towards the international festival circuit. The new focus on mainstream mass audiences is therefore seen as something that might help Taiwanese cinema connect better with its Chinese neighbor.
In February this year, CapeNo.7 (Hái-kak chhit-ho) became the first Taiwanese film in 17 years to be released in mainland China, where it grossed around $3m (RMB20m). The GIO sees its new initiative as an incentive for more films to be like “Cape No. 7.”
The GIO has suggested a target of 10 co-productions a year with China. They also recently announced a package of film industry incentives totaling NT$7.5 billion over the next five years.
Films to be screened on the The Cross-Strait Exhibition:
including Feng Xiaogang’s If You Are The One, Ning Hao’s Crazy Racer, Liu Xin’s Good Man, Yu Zhong’s Postman In Shangri-la, Feng Zhengzhi’s Invisible Wings, Wang Wei’s Tapu and Lai He’s The Attack.
Exit No.6 by Lin Yu-hsien, EtudeIsland by En Chen, Orz Boyz by Gillies Yang Ya-che, Attitude by Xiao Ma, Sumimasen, Love by Lin Yu-hsien and Keeping Watch by Zheng Fenfen.
Photo from Xinhua