Interview: Venice Film Festival director expects brilliant future for Chinese cinema
by Marzia De Giuli, Song Jian
VENICE, Italy, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) - Chinese films have achieved over the past few years very positive results in terms of both quantity and quality, and will drive their technology-led development, 70th Venice Film Festival president Alberto Barbera told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.
This venerable edition of the Venice festival, the world oldest of its kind, has given good visibility to Chinese-language movies, Barbera said.
Chinese films showing out of competition include two restored classics, Tian Mimi (Almost a Love Story, 1996) of Hong Kong director Peter Ho-sun Chan and Yangguang canlan de rizi (In the heat of the sun, 1994) of Jiang Wen, who is also a member of the festival's international jury.
Barbera noted that two elements have impeded until now a larger presence of Chinese cinema at the Venice festival, compared for example with the U.S., which count seven films among the 20 in competition this year. "One is timing, as most of Chinese movies are ready only by the end of the year, when the Venice festival has already taken place," he said.
Secondly, he added, Chinese cinema presently is being too focused on domestic market. "Chinese films are essentially though for the domestic market, which is huge. They tell stories for the Chinese audience, thus their international appeal is still limited," he said.
However Chinese cinema can already compete with best American products thanks to its "extraordinary and fast developing technology." Thus it won't take much to realize it needs to also create products that can be shared by people with different experiences and cultures to expand its market abroad.
When he returned to the Venice Film Festival last year (he had previously headed the event from 1999 to 2001,) Barbera knew well what the new direction would be and embraced some fresh ideas to boost technology-driven internationalization.
Last year he launched a "virtual" theatre online, with a maximum seating capacity of 500 seats for each showing, which allows watching films in streaming concurrently with the official presentations at the festival, and has registered an increased success this edition.
Under his guidance, a number of initiatives were created to support young talents and low budget shooting. Differently from the past, when festivals only functioned as "promotional windows for big movies," market access is now encouraged through a dedicated area, the Film Market, where some 1,500 professionals meet to discuss possible co-production partnerships and collaboration projects.
Barbera recalled that cinema has always gone through "technological revolutions," from the transition from mute to spoken films to the introduction of light equipments.
"The same is happening now with digital technology," whose effects are already visible, for example, in the experimental mix of traditional narrative with a more documentary approach. In this ongoing process of internationalization, festivals have to play an "active role" by discovering and exploring the new global protagonists of modern cinema, he said.
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