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New film company rumors unconfirmed

2014-04-22 10:51 China Daily Web Editor: Li Yan

Christopher Dodd, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, says he has no information to offer about the rumors concerning Hollywood films' importation and distribution in China, now the fastest-growing film market in the world.

Speaking on the sidelines of the fourth Beijing film festival, which ends April 23, Dodd says that he has heard the rumor that China is allowing a new company to import and distribute foreign films, but he cannot confirm it.

"I have heard the stories too, but I also heard the regulators say there is no truth to that rumor. I don't have any inside information about this," he says. "I have got to take the word of the government spokesperson, if he says there is no such thing as a second alternative that must be the case."

China imports 34 revenue-sharing foreign films a year for theatrical release. Only China Film Group is entitled to import the films, while sharing the distribution rights with Huaxia Films, another domestic company.

But on March 27, China National Culture Group Limited (known as China Railsmedia before April 3) said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that the China National Culture & Art Corporation "has duly obtained the requisite license in relation to the import and distribution of foreign TV content and foreign films in the People's Republic of China".

The films were to be brought into China under agreements with parties that include the CNCAC, Hong Kong-based i-maker Culture & Media Investments, Horizon Entertainment, and Railsmedia subsidiary FingerAd Media, the report says.

The news was quickly denied by Luan Guozhi, vice-director of the State Film Bureau, saying he had never heard of a new importer and distributor of foreign films.

The rumors popped up again when on April 11 the Hollywood Reporter quoted an anonymous source saying that China will import 10 more foreign films, specifically art-house movies.

Dodd denies it.

"I am a very persuasive person, but haven't been that persuasive," he says. "I bring up the quota issue in every meeting. My hope is ultimately the quota will go. I would love it if it becomes 44, but I have no information about that. No one suggested that number to me at all. That has not happened yet."

There are many other ways to promote communication between the two film industries, he adds, such as the Filmmaker Workshop the MPA has been developing across the world.

This year's Beijing International Film Festival sees the fourth edition of the workshop in China, during which Hollywood industry insiders will give lectures to select emerging Chinese filmmakers. The young talents will then pitch their projects to a jury made up of established filmmakers at the end of the workshop and one of them will win a trip to visit Hollywood studios.

Xue Xiaolu, whose romantic comedy Finding Mr. Right was the seventh-highest-grossing film in China last year, was a former winner of the program. She was a jury member this year.

"I cannot think of anything more important for emerging filmmakers than to share ideas and thoughts in a global environment," says Dodd, "in this workshop they will find interaction, opportunities and knowledge."

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