France looks to breach Great Wall

HONG KONG: The biggest trade mission at the convention has come from France, which is aggresively looking at pushing their film and television content across the Great Wall that is China.


The seriousness with which France is approaching the issue can be gauged from the overwhelming presence of all things French at Filmart 2005, to the extent that Day 3 of the convention was headlined ?French Day?. 37 companies are represented at Filmart led by Unifrance (largest exhibitor whose booth covers a massive 1125 sq m area at the convention centre), Film France and Ile De France Film Commission.

?This is a very good sign for Hong Kong and Asia that the French film and television business community is looking east again,? said Raymond Yip, TDC director of service promotion.

Speaking at the main session today ?Franco-Chinese Partnerships Session?, Patrick Lamassoure made an impassioned call for Asian companies to get active in French co-production opportunities.



The biggest attraction that France offers, according to Lamassoure, is not just in locations and technical and creative expertise but also due to the fact that the French government is actively involved in promoting co-production efforts.

The French subsidy system works in a proactive manner in that it is not the individual but the industry itself that is tapped for funding activities. A tax of 10.9 per cent is collected on cinema hall tickets, and as far as television companies are concerned 5.5 per cent of their annual turnover goes in the entertainment tax.

The better a company does either in the box office or on TV in terms of ratings the higher the entitlement that the company has to access subsidy funding. There is a rider though. All the money thus obtained can only be used in film/TV production, nothing else.

Interestingly, in the whole of Asia, it is only India and Sri Lanka that have treaties in place that facilitate such co-production activities. In all other Asian markets, it is through private initiative that co-productions get off the ground.

Asked to provide examples of co-productions that had won critical and box office success, Lamassoure said that it was mostly in the art house circuit that the films had featured. However, one of the delegates present at the session, pointed out that two films that had tasted success internationally were Samsara (directed by Nalin Pan) and film adaptation of Roland Joffe?s City of Joy (starring Patrick Swayze, Om Puri, Pauline Collins).

As for television, there appears to be little activity happening between France and India, either on the co-production front or in use of locations.


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