China Japan Filmmakers Forum Held in Tokyo
On March 5, as an important part of the second Chinese-Japanese Film Festival, the China Japan Filmmakers Forum was held in Tokyo, Japan. The forum with the theme of “Development of China-Japan Film Co-production” consisted of four parts, namely “Japanese Directors in China”, “Online Ticketing: Analysis of Popular Japanese Movies in China”, “Cooperation: Making Movies in China”, “Development of Film Co-production”. Director of Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan Arts and Culture Division, TOMOHIRO TSUBOTA, gave a welcome speech. He was joined by the cinematographer TAKESHI HAMADA, Chief Operating Officer of Maoyan Entertainment, KANG LI, President of Village Roadshow Entertainment Group Asia, ELLEN ELIASOPH, and the producer LI SHAOWEI. The forum attracted many Japanese filmmakers and industry executives.
Mr. TOMOHIRO TSUBOTA said in his speech that the signing of a bilateral film co-production agreement between China and Japan in 2018 has had remarkable effect on enhancing the cooperation between Chinese and Japanese filmmakers with China’s film industry gradually gaining influence and the Japanese industry growing, too. He hopes that more Japanese films will come to China and attract more people.
Director of Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan Arts and Culture Division, TOMOHIRO TSUBOTA delivered a speech
During his tenure as Director General of the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), YASUSHI SHIINA, now Vice Chief Director of UNIJAPAN, was actively promoting the cooperation between TIFF and SIFF. In his speech delivered at the forum entitled “The Significance of China-Japan Film Co-production”, he said that the growing Chinese film market has prompted more exchanges and cooperation between Japanese and Chinese films, and that the Chinese Film Festival to be held in Tokyo and Osaka from March 6 to 9 is an occasion to show more Chinese movies to the Japanese audience.
Interest in co-productions is growing, and the Japanese team praises its Chinese counterpart for professionalism
YASUSHI SHIINA, Vice Chief Director of UNIJAPAN, delivering a speech
In recent years, as the Japanese box office has been around the equivalent of RMB 12 billion without growing, Japanese filmmakers are eager to open up overseas markets for further development. Meanwhile, China’s box office has increased year by year, reaching 60.176 billion yuan last year, with the market size getting bigger. Therefore, Japanese filmmakers and film institutions are now greatly interested in China-Japan film co-production.
It is reported that there are mainly four ways for Japanese films to enter overseas markets: First, overseas release of films. For example, winner of the Golden Palm award at the 71st Cannes International Film Festival SHOPLIFTERS. Such films have been well received by the industry through participation in film festivals before going to world cinemas, but the number of these in Japan is limited. Second, the remake of the classic. These are mainly focused on Japanese cultural images enjoying fame overseas, such as DRAGON BALL and GODZILLA. Third, promotion through cultural big names such as the famous Japanese filmmakers, RYUICHI SAKAMOTO and HIROKAZU KOREEDA, who have great international influence. Fourth, international film co-production. Such co-productions as LEGEND OF THE DEMON CAT and MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE enjoy a global perspective due to the cultural differences between two countries that give rise to a different aesthetic effect.
Four years ago, SIFF and TIFF signed a memorandum of cooperation. Hence the cooperation between the two film festivals began with a series of exchange activities such as International Express and the Chinese-Japanese Film Festival. In May 2018, the governments of China and Japan signed a film co-production agreement which plays an active role in promoting in-depth exchanges and cooperation between the two countries' film industries. At present, the co-production of films between China and Japan is well on track. As of March this year, six co-production projects have been submitted for approval.
In his speech, TAKESHI HAMADA shared his experience of co-production with his Chinese counterparts. In 1980, when he came to China for the first time to work on a co-production, he was deeply impressed by the dedication and professionalism of his Chinese counterparts. He announced at the forum a new plan to co-produce THE 13TH PARALLEL NORTH with Chinese institutions, which will be filming in Hubei Province.
TAKESHI HAMADA spoke at the forum
Big data reveals the development trend of Japanese films in China, great prospects for China-Japan co-production
Maoyan Entertainment COO KANG Li used data from Maoyan Research Institute to analyze the performance of Japanese films in the Chinese market in the past three years. The data shows that Japanese films are becoming more and more popular in the Chinese market. Among the imported films other than those produced by the six major Hollywood film studios, the average box office of Japanese films is second only to Indian films, and is significantly higher than those from other countries. In the past three years, the Japanese films grossing over 100 million yuan in the Chinese market are all animated films. Japanese animations have gradually become the major box office hits in China, grossing half of China's imported animation box office returns, among which the DORAEMON series is especially popular and YOUR NAME became a phenomenal film in China. The data also reveals that the main factors for Japanese films’ popularity in China are their moving storylines, delicate and subtle emotions, and beautifully done animated scenes. Although the co-production between the two countries in recent years have gradually developed, the copyright exporting capacity is still insufficient.
Maoyan Entertainment COO KANG Li
KANG Li said that with the continuous growth of the Chinese market in the future, in addition to imported Japanese films, there will be more China-Japan co-productions and Japanese copyright export. It is hoped that the film industries of the two countries will be as developed as tourism.
ELLEN ELIASOPH, President of Village Roadshow Entertainment Group Asia
ELLEN ELIASOPH showed at the forum achievements of Village Roadshow Entertainment Group in importing foreign films and developing the Asian film market. LI SHAOWEI explained through his involvement in film projects how some of them have become successful China-Japan co-productions, and how some have failed due to issues with copyright, time and cultural differences. He said that given the development trends, more co-productions between the two countries will emerge for sure.
After the forum, the audience actively interacted with the guests. When answering a question from the audience, ELLEN ELIASOPH suggested that Japanese counterparts should seek joint development of IP with Chinese film companies, because Chinese filmmakers have insights into their domestic market, and thus enables the localization of characters and storylines for films to be enjoyed by the Chinese audience. She also recommended Japanese producers and investors to participate in the SIFF Project, where China's emerging screenwriters, directors as well as investors, and new projects will gather.
The forum is an important part of the Chinese-Japanese Film Festival 2019. Chinese Film Festival 2019, another part of it will be held in Tokyo on March 6.