Unperturbed by the recent call for boycott of Chinese goods in India, China is increasing import, export and even joint production of films.
A team of actors and filmmakers from Bengal had recently been invited by the Chinese government to present a slice of Bengali cinema in Beijing while the neighbouring nation is now the focus country at the ongoing Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF).
“It is true that we know little about films from India, but we are now here to learn more. We are starting to communicate more with India gradually,” Chinese leading woman film director Li Shaohong said.
She is on the KIFF jury to select the best woman director from a tray of 15 international films including the 2016 Chinese film ‘Yesterday Once More’ made by Yao Tingting.
Besides this, there are seven other Chinese films which are being screened at the carnival.
The filmmaker admits that she has herself seen very few Indian films like the old classics of Raj Kapoor and Aamir Khan hits - ‘PK’ and ‘3 Idiots’.
When asked about the recent criticism of China in India which even led to a call for boycott of Chinese goods, Chinese Consul General Ma Zhanwu said the differences in their relationship with India was far outweighed by the similarities and shared interests.
There was a lot of scope for exchange and cooperation in different subjects including films, he said adding that almost anyone in China could recognise the Hindi song ‘Awara Hoon’.
The Chinese government regulates the number of Indian films that can be legally imported into China each year, but piracy is also common.
The demand for foreign films in China has been on the rise.
Liu Chun, director of the Film Bureau, said with the increase in number of theatres, film lovers wanted to see good quality films from all over the world.
Susan Xu, Vice-president of China Film Co-Production Corporation, said as of now the government allowed 34 films from India on a revenue sharing model with Chinese distributors/theatre owners, while 40 others were allowed through a flat deal between the Indian producers and Chinese film distributors.
On the small screen however 400 films from India could be shown throughout the year.
“On the CCTV movie channel they screen films from all over the world including India” she said.
The criteria for selection of these films were quality of cinema, investment, special cultural exploration and whether it was beneficial to the progress of mankind.
Xu is also working closely with filmmakers from both sides to encourage co-productions ever since an agreement in this regard was signed between the neighbouring countries in 2014.
Released earlier this year to wide acclaim, ‘Xuan Zang’ was the first such Sino-Indian joint production after the treaty.
It tells the legendary story of eminent Chinese monk Xuan Zang’s 17-year journey to India to bring Buddhism to China.
Xu said makers of the stereoscopic 3D animated film ‘Delhi Safari’ had now teamed up with a Chinese filmmaker to co-produce a sequel to the film tentatively titled ‘Beijing Safari’.
“We have not yet cleared the project but are studying the papers,” the official said.