By Richard Verrier
March 3, 2013, 7:54 p.m.
In the latest effort by China to expand its cultural influence and build stronger ties to Hollywood, government officials in Beijing are looking for U.S.-based screenwriters to help tell their stories.
The Cultural Assets Office of the Beijing Municipal Government on Monday will announce the 2013 Beijing International Screenwriting Competition, which organizers called a “groundbreaking initiative” to foster artistic collaboration and an ongoing creative dialogue between China and the U.S.
Open to U.S.-based contestants of all nationalities, the competition will consider screenplays for feature films and short films centered on Beijing and its culture. Finalists will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Beijing in June to meet with potential investors in their movies. Winners will receive cash prizes totaling more than $100,000.
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“This Competition is one of the first established routes for U.S. filmmakers to obtain direct access to the Chinese market,” said Competition Chairman Kevin Niu. “It will serve as a model for future cultural collaboration between the U.S. and China — one that bridges the gap between our two cultures.”
The endeavor underscores the expanding relationship between China and Hollywood. Several Hollywood studios are building operations in China, which took steps last year to ease restrictions on the number of foreign movies it allows into the country. China also is rapidly expanding its own theater industry to cater to an expanding middle class, and its media companies are heavily investing in the U.S. Dalian Wanda Group last year spent $2.6 billion to acquire AMC Entertainment.
Honorary competition presidents will include Vice-Mayor of Beijing Wei Lu and two-time Academy Award-winning director Mark Harris. Harris and Tracey Trench, producer of “The Pink Panther” and “Ever After,” will serve as the competition’s grand judges.
Proposals for the first round of the feature film competition are due April 7, and short-film screenplays are due April 20. Up to seven short film grand prize winners will receive financing for the production of their films.
The competition is sponsored by the state-owned Beijing International Creative Industry Corporation. Other partners include LeTV, China’s biggest online video content distributor for TV dramas and movies, and Harvardwood, a nonprofit organization for Harvard University alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends working or strongly interested in the arts, media, and entertainment.