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Legendary Italian filmmaker looks to China co-productions
   2016-09-28 21:23:37    Agencies      Web Editor: Huang Shan

Carlo Verdone [Photo provided to gbtimes.com]

By Asa Butcher for gbtimes.com

Italy¡¯s esteemed reputation for creative filmmaking has stimulated an increase in partnerships between its filmmakers and the Chinese film industry. Drawn by the huge opportunities of the Chinese market, Italians are eager to explore the chance to work with their counterparts in China.
 
In 2014, the two countries agreed a ten-year strategic partnership that included the Italy-China Co-production Treaty. This allows projects to be eligible for local incentives and to be classified as ¡®local content¡¯, meaning they are not subject to the China Film Import Quota that permits 34 foreign films a year.
 
Caff¨¨, the first film to be made under the co-production treaty, will be officially released in October following its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival earlier this month.
 
Its director Cristiano Bortone is also the founder of the Sino-European co-production network Bridging the Dragon. Established in 2014, his initiative to bridge the European and Chinese film industries was recently involved in organizing the 3rd China Film Forum at the Venice International Film Festival.
 
The forum is just one of one an increasing number of China-related workshops, seminars and events appearing at film festival across Italy. In fact, this month was the debut of the Chinese Film Festival in Milan and next month China Day will be held under the umbrella of the International Rome Film Festival.


Evolving Chinese tastes

The promotion and development of Sino-Italian co-productions, however, hasn¡¯t only been restricted to Italy. 8,000 kilometers to the east of Rome is Xi¡¯an, capital of Shaanxi Province¡ªthe starting point of the Silk Road, an ancient network of trade routes, as well as home to the Terracotta Army.
 
In 2014, the city hosted the 1st Silk Road International Film Festival, which annually alternates venues between Xi¡¯an and Fuzhou, Fujian Province¡ªwhere the Maritime Silk Road begins. This year the film festival returned to Xi¡¯an, screening over 600 films and attracting top filmmakers from around the world.
 
Among them was Carlo Verdone, a legendary Italian actor, screenwriter and film director, who made his directorial debut in 1980. Curious to understand evolving Chinese tastes and develop future partnerships, he travelled to China for the first time to screen his latest film, L¡¯abbiamo fatta grossa.
 
¡°It¡¯s the first time I confront myself with the Chinese public, so I don¡¯t have any clear expectations about what will happen or how the public will react to my film,¡± Verdone explains to gbtimes. ¡°I am also very interested in the local movies and the tastes of the local people.¡±


Increased awareness

The Silk Road International Film Festival, just like China¡¯s film industry, is going through an evolution process and is in its initial developing stage, states the Italian filmmaker. He strongly believes that it will increase in importance over the next few years, speculating that it could become one of the most important cinema events for China and possibly even internationally.
 
¡°The festival should add some very famous and internationally recognisable names to its future juries because having such names involved in a project like this will increase the awareness of the festival around the world, suggests Verdone, who was on the jury at the 71st Venice Film Festival along with Chinese actress Joan Chen.
 
The jury at this year¡¯s festival features influential Chinese director Huang Jianxin, actress Tao Hong, Georgian director Giorgi Ovashvili, Russian movie critic Kirill Razlogov, American producer Kia Jam and a large number of representatives from across Chinese media.
 
The festival¡¯s strongest advantage is the city of Xi¡¯an, comments Carlo Verdone, pointing to its beauty, heritage and historical importance. ¡°It is the place that a lot of people want to visit when they come to China, so I really believe that the festival will grow,¡± he emphasises.


Mouth-watering anticipation

During his two-week trip to China, Carlo Verdone is being accompanied by Aurelio De Laurentiis, owner of the production company Filmauro and president of the Italian Serie A football team Napoli. They will be travelling on to Shanghai and Beijing for meetings with local sports and film partners.
 
¡°We are taking advantage of this trip to see as much as possible,¡± says Verdone, ¡°I want to get a full picture of what China looks like. I am already thinking about my next visit to China because I am very interested in visiting the rural parts of the country and getting to know more about how people in China really live.¡±
 
After his first few days in Xi¡¯an, Carlo Verdone noted an intriguing cultural similarity between China and Italy. ¡°Food plays a very important role in fostering and developing relations between people, so eating together is not just about eating but also about talking and creating relationships.¡±
 
He believes it is these strong connections and points of similarity that will help Italy and China build a strong cultural alliance, along with their millennia of history. Time will tell just what cinematic delicacies their co-productions will cook up in the future but the potential projects are certainly mouth-watering.

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