'Chairman Mao' coming for film industry talks

By Lincoln Tan

"Chairman Mao" will be in Auckland next week to promote a film co-production agreement that China has with New Zealand.

The agreement was signed between New Zealand's Ministry for Culture and Heritage and China's Administration for Radio, Film and Television in July. It is aimed at giving the film industry in both countries a boost.

But the New Zealand Film Commission says although there has been "lots of interest", there has been no take-up of the agreement to date.

Some film makers say this is because of the "complexity and difficulties" involved in understanding the Chinese rules and laws.

Chinese actor Wang Yin - known for his role as Mao Zedong - will be part of the delegation arriving on December 7 to help the local film industry better understand the rules, and how to make inroads into the country ranked second for the world's biggest box-office takings.

Others in the Chinese delegation include China Film Association deputy chief executive Kang Jianmin and China Film Group director Yin Li.

Open talks will take place at Unitec's performing and screen arts school, and the delegation will also meet film-makers and the film commission.

"China is serious about making this agreement work, and this is a powerful delegation that is coming here to look at ways to get co-productions going between the two countries," said Jim He, chairman of the Pacific Culture and Arts Exchange Centre.

"The agreement has opened the door for the local film industry to step into China, and the opportunities are huge."

China has a strict quota, allowing no more than 20 foreign films a year to be distributed commercially, but a co-produced film with "official co-production" status would circumvent that.

Co-production film-makers are also able to access funding and incentives otherwise available only for "national" films, and there would be easier movements of staff and equipment between the countries.

Last year's Chinese epic Red Cliff had most of its special-effects work done by Peter Jackson's Park Road Post.

- NZ Herald

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