by Fabio Patrassi
The Hotel Excelsior was the setting for the China Film Forum
, which gave leading figures in European and Chinese film the opportunity to discuss the unique features of two apparently dissimilar film traditions, and their mutual influences.
As Giorgio Gosetti
stressed in his keynote speech, the Forum coincided with the screening of Underground Fragrance
's feaure film debut, at Venice Days.
The conversation, featuring filmmaker Zhang Duanyang and producer Han Yi, also turned to another upcoming film, The Forgotten War, with a few sneak peaks for the sizeable audience. Giuseppe Tornatore had this to say about the trailer: "When I see a movie I like to become an ordinary moviegoer again. I don't go to see it with the tools of the trade: that would be high treason. The trailer gives us a taste of a bold style."
The Oscar®-winning director Tornatore, no stranger to Beijing, where he made a short film for its Olympics, was on hand to kick off the debate on Chinese film and its relationship with European cinema.
"The Chinese market is very mainstream: audiences mainly go to see American blockbusters. It's hard to make independent films in China. We go to the festivals to try to export our cinema to Europe," explained Yang Ying (director of Movie View International).
"Producing films in China, it seems, is as challenging as it is in Italy. "We at the Directorate-General for Cinema try to join forces with all the players in our country," observes Maria Giuseppina Troccoli, offering a possible solution as she presents her project Bussola del cinema (A compass for cinema) outlining the various options for producing audiovisual works in Italy.
"The first step in the direction of the rebirth of the industry is to humbly knock on the doors of a crucial market like that of China." This is the hopeful proposition of Andrea Cicini (the ANICA representative in China), who sees eye to eye with Giorgio Gosetti on the issue; the latter urged the Italian film industry to be more curious and open to other markets, saying, "The Chinese film industry is young, and looks at reality in a different way."
The guest speakers at the Forum felt, therefore, that it's a matter of creating universal stories, enriching them at the same time with details rooted in specific historical eras; and also come up with an original use of mediums and connections between different realities.
"Documentaries are the key," Gosetti added. "We're curious to see the way people live in other countries." Both Italian and Chinese speakers agreed that it's important to regain the courage to write inconvenient stories, like that of The Forgotten War (a war victim of the ‘amnesia' of the Chinese government), and get them produced (a good example being the Franco-Chinese co-production, Underground Fragrance).
"These stories are the stuff of auteur cinema, and this is the kind of cinema that needs to get made. Now that we have proved we know how to produce it, it's time to go back to making these films together."