American filmmakers were among scores of international filmmakers to attend the second annual Beijing International Film Festival (BIFF), with 200 major players in the movie making business attending a party the night before at the capital’s popular d Lounge.
The party at d Lounge, which was hosted by Rob Minkoff, was attended by many of Hollywood’s current movers and shakers, like Christopher Lee, who is best known for producing “Superman Returns” and overseeing other notable film projects like “Jerry McGuire”, “Philadelphia”, and “As Good as it Gets”, Tom DeSanto – writer and producer for “X-Men” and “Transformers”, and Peter Loerh, who used to be head of Creative Artists in China. Lee is also the former head of Columbia and Tri star.
Minkoff, best known for directing “The Lion King” (1994), which won two academy awards for its music and the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture, compared Beijing’s emerging movie industry to a similar period for movies in Paris in the early part of the 20th century: “Like Paris in the 1920s, Beijing is having its world moment right now. If you’re in the movies and you haven’t been to Beijing, you’re kind of missing where things are really happening.”
Lee said Beijing today is more like Hollywood during the 1920s, and made reference to the intense competition to form partnerships with Chinese companies as the country’s movie market surges. Disney announced on April 11th it will partner with the animation arm of China’s Ministry of Culture and that country’s biggest Internet company, Tencent Holdings. DreamWorks Animation in February said it will partner with several media companies run by the state in order to build a new studio in Shanghai.
Lee said: “We’re all wondering which one of these Chinese and China joint-venture companies forming is going to have the right management. How else will China find its way?”
The six-day BIFF comes as Beijing saw its film industry enjoy another year of impressive growth, with box office revenue exceeding $2 billion in 2011 for the first time. The Motion Picture Association of America said the number of movie screens in China, which more than doubled in 5 years to 10,700 at the end of 2011, should reach 13,000 by the end of 2012. In addition, accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers said that the total amount China spends on media and entertainment is expected to reach a whopping $133 billion by 2014. This figure includes the amount of money spent by both consumers and advertisers for every kind of filmed entertainment.
Award-winning films to be filmed at the China National Convention Center in Beijing include “A Separation” (Best Foreign Language Film), and “The Artist”, which earned a whopping ten nominations at the 84th Academy Awards and won five including Best Picture, Best Actor (Jean Dujardin), and Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius). The Artist will close the second annual BIFF. No opening film has been announced yet. Attendees will also be able to screen “Hugo”, directed by Martin Scorsese, and “The Tree of Life”, directed by Terence Malik – both films were nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards.