L.A.’s Must-Attend Event of the Season: The U.S. China Film Summit, 11-5-15


By Robert Cain for China Film Biz

October 26, 2015

U.S. China Film

Here’s an important heads-up: the sixth annual U.S.-China Film Summit, North America’s biggest and best annual gathering of Hollywood and Chinese filmmakers and industry executives, will take place on November 5th at downtown L.A.’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Since its inception the Summit has grown bigger and more influential each year, and with this year’s exceptional slate of panels and speakers it’s an absolute must for anyone participating in or planning to join the booming cross-Pacific movie trade.

From senior executives at established film companies, like IMAX, Bona Film Group and Universal Pictures, to innovative film-technology entrepreneurs, the Film Summit’s speakers will offer unmatched insight and market intelligence on the U.S.-China film industry.

Panel topics at the Film Summit will include:

  • The China Wave: After a year of headline-making deals, what’s the outlook for Chinese investment in Hollywood, what new forms may it take and will China’s market turbulence affect companies’ global appetites?
  • Frontiers in Content: New avenues and models for U.S.-China collaboration, from cutting-edge digital technologies and gaming-inspired story development to theme parks and ancillary film products.
  • Take Two: As cross-border film productions become more ambitious, it’s more important than ever to avoid legal, business and cultural disconnects that have plagued some projects. Lessons learned in how to overcome these hurdles, and key issues to expect in the future.
  • Insights from the Corner Office: Chinese and American studio heads share their experiences and predictions on how the world’s two biggest entertainment markets will converge, collaborate and compete.
  • The Future of Movie Going. This panel will examine a question on the mind of every studio executive and filmmaker: What will it take to keep up the box-office surge in China?  Online technology and mobile apps are part of the answer.

The day will be capped off with a Gala Dinner and awards presented by the Asia Society. Honorees include:

Zhang Yimou, China’s most critically acclaimed director, will be honored for his lifetime achievement. Zhang created award winners from his very first film, Red Sorghum (1987), received an Academy Award nomination for Ju Dou (1989) and cemented his international reputation with Raise the Red Lantern (1992.) His body of work continues to grow, with the recent release of Coming Home and the highly anticipated film, The Great Wall, a major Chinese-U.S. co-production.

Zhang Zhao, Chief Executive Officer of Le Vision Pictures, will be honored for his film industry leadership. Zhang founded Le Vision Pictures, one of the largest private-sector studios in China, and has steered its impressive growth in China and abroad. Le Vision has partnered with Legendary Entertainment, China Film Co. and Universal Pictures for The Great Wall, directed by fellow honoree Zhang Yimou. Le Vision is expanding its work with other U.S. studios as well as investing in online services and related media being developed by affiliate Letv.

The Beijing Film Academy will be honored for its role cultivating talented actors, directors and entrepreneurs who have elevated Chinese film and taken it global. BFA’s distinguished graduates include directors Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige and Tian Zhuangzhuang and leading actors, including previous Film Summit honorees Zhao Wei and Huang Xiaoming, who are at the forefront of Chinese cinema and the growing bonds with Hollywood. BFA has encouraged those ties by opening up to international students and visiting professors. BFA will be represented at the Summit by Hou Guangming, Chairman of the Academy Council, senior administrators and faculty.

For more information and to register for the event, please click on this link.  I look forward to seeing you there!

Robert Cain is a producer and entertainment industry consultant who has been doing business in China since 1987. He can be reached at rob@pacificbridgepics.com and at www.pacificbridgepics.com.

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China Film Personality: Liu Cheng


By Robert Cain for China Film Biz

March 3, 2012

Last week I had the privilege of attending a luncheon event that yielded two most unexpected gifts. The first was a copy of a beautiful Chinese book, the Three-Character Primer of Film (电影三字经), given to me by the author himself, Mr. Liu Cheng (柳城). The second was the gift of meeting and beginning what I hope will be a long friendship with Mr. Liu, a warm and generous man who has inspired and influenced countless filmmakers in China and around the world.

The luncheon was part of a day-long celebration of the installation of Mr. Liu’s newly translated Three-Character Primer at the Motion Picture Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills. Written in admirably poetic style in just 900 classical Chinese characters, evocatively translated into English, and exquisitely bound on rice paper, the book is a marvel of economy and truthful insights about the art, craft and power of film.

Mr. Liu himself is a unique individual: accomplished and modest, powerful and gentle all at once. He was the man of the hour among an august group** of American and Chinese filmmakers, producers and industry executives, and the respect, admiration and affection for him in the room were as rich and piquant as the Chinese delicacies on the table.

A few choice morsels from his book:

In scene and storyline, less is more,
Stress what’s important, stick to the core.

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For subject let obsession be your guide,
Release the yearning that lies deep inside.

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Emotional truth is your glue and your weave,
Conflict comes from desires to which we cleave.

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Liu Cheng’s career has encompassed teaching and leadership positions at the Beijing Film Academy, at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), and currently at China’s national film channel, CCTV-6. He has been responsible for screenplays and movies at the highest levels in China’s industry, and counts among his friends film luminaries the world over.

The 50-plus commentaries and testimonials to his book reveal the impact he has had on global film industry leaders. A selection of quotes from these testimonials follows:

Zhang Yimou, filmmaker: “It amazes me that he was able to produce a major work using so few words and present a major truth so neatly… This is a book which is deceptively simple, but full of surprises. It seems effortless, but has been carved out through painful effort.”

Im Kwon Taek, filmmaker and the ‘Father of Korean film’: “I hereby recommend the Three-Character Primer of Film to all my Korean colleagues, as well to young people who hope to make a career in film. They will find the wisdom that the writer has acquired through a lifetime at filmmaking.”

Han Sanping, Chairman of China Film Group: “It would not be excessive to hail the Primer as a classic, not because of its three-character format, but because it has put the finger on the essence of the art of film as well as upholding an attitude to life itself.”

Jane Campion, filmmaker: “There is poetry in film, but Mr. Liu Cheng has written a poem on film itself, thus worthy of our attention.”

Janet Yang, Producer: “The Primer has a deceptively light touch. The writing must have been a very demanding job: one must be knowledgeable about film, one must master classical Chinese, and one must understand life.”

Jon Avnet, filmmaker, Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America: “When I read Mr. Liu’s poetics, I felt he captured the essence of filmmaking. He has done it in rhyme, and he has done it concisely.”

J.J. Abrams, filmmaker: “As a fan of script writing and filmmaking books, this fantastic volume from across the globe has become one of my favorites. It is slight in page count only; the contents herein are critical truisms to which we all should adhere.”

David Seidler, screenwriter: “Please don’t read the Three-Character Primer of Film by Liu Cheng. If you do, you’ll become extremely wise in the ways of screenwriting, and I don’t need the competition.”

It is tempting for those of us in the west who have little insight into the inner workings of China’s film establishment to dismiss it as a faceless bureaucracy, an adversary standing in the way of our ambitions. But we can all take comfort that rare individuals like Liu Cheng, lettered, passionate about art, and optimistic about the future, are there in China, ready and willing to lend us a hand.

(**My table at lunch comprised a convivial group that included producer and former AMPAS President Sid Ganis, producer Janet Yang, Rhythm & Hues president John Hughes, visual effects master Doug Smith, writer-director Anna Chi, Wuxi Studios business development executive Rita Cahill, CCTV on-camera personality Maggie Wang, and Mr. Liu Cheng.)

Robert Cain is a producer and entertainment industry consultant who has been doing business in China since 1987. He can be reached at rob@pacificbridgepics.com and at www.pacificbridgepics.com.