Despite controversies and occasional dissatisfaction, there were many bright spots and exciting moments at the just-ended Shanghai International Film Festival of 2014, one of which featuring top executives, financiers, and creative talents from China and Hollywood (some are actually in between, based in both places), discussing topics ranging from film financing to venture capital, from studio theme parks to merchandising, and from China-Hollywood cooperation to the prospect of Chinese films going overseas.
Hosted by my new employer, Shanghai Theatre Academy, this particular half-day forum featured two panels, moderated by ubiquitous Peggy Chiao and Sherwood Hu, head of STA’s School of Film-TV respectively. Panelists included familiar names, such as Mike Ellis (President and Managing Director of MPA Asia Pacific), Zhang Jizhong (director and producer), Zhou Tiedong (former head of China Film Promotion International; now president of Beijing Novo United Films), also some new faces, such as Relativity Media’s Ryan Kavanaugh, Oriental DreamWorks’ Tracey Trench (head of Creative Development), Hengdian Group’s YIN Xu (vice president), and Hugo Shong, founding general partner of IDG Capital Partners.
At the end of the day, one thing became quite clear: despite sweet talks about helping Chinese cinema reach beyond its border, what interested MPA and Hollywood most was how to tap into the booming film market of China; and what interested the China side most was the eager and anxiety to realize China’s ambition to develop a globally competitive film industry and to expand its cinema culture overseas. The two are talking to each other, but their paths are not crossed.