China Launches Screenwriting Competition for U.S. Writers
James Cameron did it last year for Titanic 3D, Robert Downey Jr. probably will do it next month for Iron Man 3, and now budding U.S. screenwriters will get a chance to follow the example of Hollywood heavyweights and make a pitch to booming China, the world’s second-largest film market.
The Chinese government announced Monday an international scriptwriting contest targeting American writers, for which finalists will be flown to China to discuss having their stories set there made into films.
Zhang Huiguang, director of the Beijing Municipal Government’s Cultural Assets Office, made the announcement that officially launched the 2013 Beijing International Screenwriting Competition for U.S.-based writers. The deadlines for feature and short-film scripts are April 7 and April 20, respectively, followed by a May announcement of the list of finalists, all of whom will be given prize money as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to meet potential financiers in the Chinese capital.
The competition is the Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to get the country more exposure in international markets through voices that might be more in touch with the tastes and expectations of foreign audiences. The difficulties of getting Chinese stories to transcend cultural barriers were illustrated last month when Lost in Thailand — the highest-grossing domestic production ever released in China — flopped in its limited release at the now-Chinese-owned AMC cinema chain in North America.
Zhang will serve as the president of the competition, with film producer Kevin Niu serving as chairman. Oscar-winning journalist-filmmaker Mark Harris and producer Tracey Trench (a former 20th Century Fox executive and now a key consultant to the Oriental DreamWorks animation studio joint venture in China) will be the competition’s grand judges. It is understood that the panel will meet during the Beijing International Film Festival in late April, after which the decision on the list of finalists will be made and unveiled.
“My hope is that the competition will bring the two cultures closer together through the delicious language of film,” Trench told The Hollywood Reporter. “As a judge, I will be looking for the elements of any good feature or short: solid storytelling with fresh characters. And in this case, I will be particularly interested to see how writers weave the hugely fascinating city of Beijing into their narratives.”
In a statement, the competition was described as an “unprecedented opportunity for aspiring and establishedU.S. writers to obtain international recognition,” with submissions required to “prominently feature Beijing as a location, conveying in some way the romance, mystery and cultural richness of this great world capital.” Niu saidthe competition “is one of the first established routes for U.S. filmmakers to obtain direct access to the Chinesemarket.”
“I am thrilled that the Beijing International Screenwriting Competition is taking place at this time in history,” said Zhang. “The city and people of Beijing are excited to begin a new era of creative and cultural collaboration with the U.S.”
The Beijing authorities are backed in the competition by Beijing International Creative Industry Corp., online video providers LeTV and Harvardwood, an organization for Harvard alumni working in the media and entertainment industries.
Bu Bu Jing Qing releases character posters
Snow White and the Five Grumpy Princes. At least dad is semi-smiling?
The “sequel” to popular timetraveling series, Shanghai Tangren’s Bu Bu Jing Xin, has recently begun filming. The new series, titled Bu Bu Jing Qing 步步惊情, features a similar cast, but is instead a modern intrigue series. Starring Liu Shishi, Nicky Wu, Ye Zuxin and Li Zongren from the original series and with the new edition of Sun Yizhou, Jiang Jinfu, Zeng Yike and Chen Xiang, the series released character posters today.
Emperor Yongzheng reincarnates himself as a high exec to find his true love, who unfortunately never managed to find a better stylist in the past few hundred years.
Sun Yizhou moves out of iPartment to become the heir of a large corporation.
Jiang Jinfu plays the younger brother of Sun Yizhou. What kind of century is this that only the eldest inherits a company?
Ye Zuxin appears to not be a third son, although his earring may indicate a connection with Jiang Jinfu?
Chen Xiang plays an ex. Also joining the cast from eeMedia is Zeng Yike, who plays LIu Shishi’s best friend.
Crazy Dinner – Fan ju ye feng kuang (2012)
Shang Jing (飯局也瘋狂)
Pure model bikini
The Sweet Smile – Lei feng de wei xiao (2013)
Zhang Yu Zhong (雷锋的微笑)
China Has its Own Golden Raspberry Awards
The awarding ceremony of the 4th Golden Broom Awards. [Photo: baidu]
It’s always hard to accept criticism, especially when one is facing the public. For the Golden Raspberry Awards in the US, it took 16 years to have an award winner attend the ceremony. So, by that standard, Chinese film critic Cheng Qingsong and his Golden Broom Awards are doing much better. At only its 4th award ceremony, held Sunday in Beijing, two recipients showed up.
‘The Lion Roars 2’ big ‘winner’
After a month of on-line voting (since January 9) and another round of judgment by professionals, the final list of winners of the 4th Golden Broom Awards was released Sunday, with both old and new faces.
Xiaoshenyang, disciple of famous short sketch performer Zhao Benshan, for the second time won a Broom for most disappointing actor, while actress Yang Mi became the new “queen.”
After rising to national fame in a short sketch in 2009’s CCTV Spring Festival Gala, Xiaoshenyang and his teacher Zhao began to step into the movie circle. But with his fixed and rigid acting style, Xiaoshenyang has seldom received good feedback from audiences.
Yang became known to the public through TV opera Gong and then became a high-yielding actress in movies.
Besides starring the most disappointing actor, The Lion Roars 2 also took in the most disappointing director and the most disappointing film.
Due to his analysis of the history, which was seen as too personal, his neglecting the audience’s feelings, and the scandal of using a water army to boost on-line ratings, director Lu Chuan earned himself the other award for most disappointing director and his film, The Last Supper, received one of the most disappointing movie awards.
Also on Sunday, the Youth Film Handbook announced its choices for the top 10 Chinese movies of 2012, as well as annual best actor, best actress, best director, best new actor, etc.
Winning four major awards, including top 10 movies of 2012, best actress, best director, and best new actor, director Lou Ye’s Mystery became this year’s biggest winner.
The confidence to stand out
For three years, the Golden Broom Awards were in a questionable situation. While the number of on-line voting participants rose, there were still insiders with doubts, and no winner showed up for the awards. After winning three Brooms in 2011, famous Chinese director Feng Xiaogang joked that he was going to “take all the Golden Broom awards for the next 10 years.”
Even before this year’s ceremony, Cheng Qingsong, chief editor of Youth Film Handbook and major founder of the Golden Brooms, wrote on his Sina Weibo that if still no one came to receive the awards this year, he may consider giving it up the next year. But the result turned out quite encouraging to him. Joe Ma, the most disappointing director winner asked a colleague to attend for him, while Li Mingyang, producer of the most disappointing small- and mid- budget film, Cray Foolish Thievs (“Crazy Foolish Thieves” purposefully misspelled), came with a letter of self-criticism.
The anonymous woman who claimed to be Ma’s colleague read Ma’s acceptance speech: it said, “I am spurred on by (the award). I feel panic and have a sense of blame. At the same time, I cheer for the spirit behind it.”
After reading his self-criticism letter, Li bowed to the audience for 10 seconds. In an interview with the Global Times after receiving the award, Li said that he was not surprised to win a Broom. “When we were discussing shooting Cray Foolish Thievs, the 3rd Golden Broom Awards were (being handed out), and I told my colleagues that if we win one, I will definitely fetch it,” he said.
He admitted that when planning this movie, what they were most concerned with was how to make the money back for their investors, thinking little about the audience.
In response, Cheng Qingsong said, “We are not holding this award to bring shame on people. [We hope that] through this award, filmmakers and institutions can self-critique their creations.”
“The people who gain the most is not us,” Cheng added, “but the producers of Cray Foolish Thievs and director Ma, who recognize their mistakes and then rise up. I show my regards to them.”
Golden Broom significance
In an entertainment article published in the Beijing News on Monday, critic Yu Dengqing wrote that when Cheng first came up with the Golden Broom Awards, it might have been meant to entertain and make fun, but the most important thing is that it provides a platform for critics.
“Now, movies are art but have also become a business. Even some movie critics have been commercialized… from actors, directors to producers, it seems more and more are unwilling to receive negative comments,” he wrote. “However, rejecting a Golden Broom cannot reduce negative comments nor can it change the fact that he shot a bad movie. Dare to face the critics… at least it shows respect to the movie.”
Liu Shibing, professor at Beijing Film Academy, agrees that platform for criticism is badly needed in today’s society, for both audiences and filmmakers need a sober mind [separate] from the highly commercialized movie industry.
“Being given a Golden Broom does not mean [the movie, actor or director] is the worst,” Liu told the Global Times in a phone interview on Monday.
“It is because the audience has a much higher expectation, but they failed to reach that.”
LeiFeng in 1959 – Lei feng zhai 1959 (2013)
Ning Haiqiang (雷锋在1959)
Stephen Chow’s Blockbuster Continues Box Office Conquest
A still of “Journey to the West.” [Photo: douban]
“Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons,” a period adventure comedy created by writer-director Stephen Chow, had raked in more than 1.1 billion yuan (176.7 million U.S. dollars) as of Sunday, the film’s production company announced.
The film took in 80 million yuan when it debuted on Feb. 10, the biggest opening ever for a domestic film. It pulled in a combined 1.08 billion yuan throughout February, the Huayi Bros. Media Group said.
Chow’s 3-D action comedy, based on the classic Chinese novel “Journey to the West,” follows the adventures of a young demon hunter.
China’s current box office record is held by “Lost in Thailand,” a low-budget comedy that has earned more than 1.26 billion yuan since it debuted last December. However, many believe Chow’s movie will break that record before it leaves theaters.
Murderer – Sha ren fan (2009)
Roy Chow Hin-Yeung (殺人犯)
Falling Flowers – Xiao hong (2013)
Huo Jianqi (蕭紅)
Magic Curse – Cui hua du jiang tou (1975)
Tony Liu Jun-Guk,To Man-Bo (摧花毒降頭)
The Romance in the Ghost House – Gui wu yan yu (1975)
Yu Hon-Cheung (鬼屋艷遇)
Tough Guy – Ying han (1972)
Joseph Kong Hung (硬漢)
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