British Film Institute Strengthening Industry’s Ties To China
In December, British Prime Minister David Cameron visited China on a mission to strengthen ties across many sectors, the film industry among them. During the trip, an agreement was made in principle to support the conclusion of a UK-China co-production treaty. The British Film Institute is now moving forward with further plans to increase its relationship with the world’s No. 2 box office market. The new initiative is going by the moniker Electric Shadows — the Chinese term for movies. The program will encompass a year of business, trade, and creative and cultural collaborations between the UK and China and is designed to grow mutual economic and cultural benefits for film from both countries. Part of the aim is to bring previously difficult-to-access Chinese cinema to UK audiences and, in turn, to make British cinema available to Chinese audiences. The moves fall in line with the BFI’s International Strategy, in which China is a key priority territory. In February, Personal Tailor and Back To 1942 director Feng Xiaogang will visit the UK to accompany a retrospective of his work, a gala screening of Back To 1942 and to be interviewed about his career at BFI Southbank. The BFI and the British Council also will work closely with the Beijing International Film Festival in April to lead a trade delegation and present British films at the event. From June through October, the BFI will stage an exploration of Chinese cinema in the UK, and in the fall, a selection of contemporary and classic British film will be shown in Beijing.
Dogwoof Sells Docu ‘Web Junkie’ To BBC Storyville
UK distributor Dogwoof has sold Sundance World Cinema Documentary competitor Web Junkie to BBC Storyville for UK broadcast. The Israeli film, by Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia, investigates a Beijing rehab center where Chinese teenagers are deprogrammed from their Internet addictions. The film is produced by Neta Zwebner-Zaibert, and executive produced by Jeremy Chilnick, Morgan Spurlock, Dan Cogan, Jenny Raskin, and Eve Ensler. Separately, Dogwoof has also boarded presales pf Sour Grapes, a film by Jerry Rothwell. Currently in production, it tells the story of wine auction swindler Rudy Kurniawan, who made millions selling counterfeit Burgundys and was found guilty of fraud last month.
Admissions To French Films Abroad Plunge 65% Year-Over-Year
After a stellar 2012 that was led by such international successes as The Intouchables and The Artist, 2013 was a pretty grim year for French films abroad. Admissions plummeted to 50 million, down 65% from 2012’s 144.1 million, and worth €280 million, down 68% on the previous year. As I’ve noted before, the box office at home also suffered in 2013 — with 64 million admissions for French movies — so the export results are not surprising. (One area of growth was in China, where French movies set a record with 5.2 million tickets sold.) Among the pictures that stood out overseas for France in 2013 were Malavita, Amour, Blue Is The Warmest Color, The Gilded Cage, Renoir and Rust And Bone. Next year, eyes are on Dany Boon’s Superchondriac, Michel Hazanavicius’ The Search, Olivier Dahan’s Grace Of Monaco, two Yves Saint Laurent biopics, Christoph Gans’ Beauty And The Beast and EuropaCorp’s Jack And The Cuckoo-Clock Heart. The export results were announced this weekend in Paris by Unifrance, which also officially launched the 4th edition of My French Film Festival. That’s an online fest that allows viewers in 80 countries to screen 10 French features and 10 French shorts during the course of a month on 20 different platforms. Four prizes are handed out at the end of the fest, which runs through February 17: an audience award, a social networks award, an international press award (Full disclosure: I am a member of the jury), and a filmmakers award from an international panel led by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
Berlin Fest Announces Culinary Cinema Lineup, Generation Section Openers
The Berlin Film Festival has unveiled its Culinary Cinema sidebar lineup and set the opening movies for the Generation section. The Generation 14plus program will open with British musical feature God Help The Girl by Stuart Murdoch. The founder and lead singer of the band Belle and Sebastian makes his directorial debut with the story of summer love in the beat clubs of Glasgow. Emily Browning, Olly Alexander and Hannah Murray star. Generation Kplus kicks off with animated pic Wolfy, The Incredible Secret by Grégoire Solotareff and Eric Omond. In the Culinary Cinema section, which focuses on food and the environment, several screenings will be followed by a special meal cooked by a different top chef. Opening the program is Korean feature Final Recipe by Gina Kim with Michelle Yeoh as the producer of an extremely glamorous cooking contest who becomes entangled in a family drama. Other films include Franc Aleu’s documentary The Dream about the Roca brothers of restaurant El Celler De Can Roca; Zone Pro Site: The Moveable Feast, Chen Yu-Hsun’s comedy about traditional Taiwanese outdoor catering chefs; Yuzo Asahara’s A Tale Of Samurai Cooking: A True Love Story; Fisher Stevens and Robert Nixon’s environmental doc Mission Blue; and Mondovino director Jonathan Nossiter’s Natural Resistance, a documentary about Italian winemakers.