Posted November 14, 2018 04:16:30Chinese cinema has been struggling for years to establish itself in Australia, but it is no longer a niche market, as its popularity has grown.
Chinese cinema was a rare sight in Australia during the boom years, and it was only when the Asian financial crisis hit that the genre began to take off.
But the industry’s resurgence is not happening by accident, says director and producer John Tapp.
“The Chinese have been really enthusiastic about what they see as the potential of Chinese cinema,” he says.
“It’s very important for them that we continue to be the gatekeepers of the industry, to keep the door open to all people, not just the Chinese.”
In Australia, there are a number of big Chinese productions, including the Chinese-language animated comedy series, Wuhan, the first Chinese-American to star in a Western film, and the Chinese blockbuster film, The Legend of Hercules.
Chinese films have also become popular in other countries, including Hong Kong and Taiwan.
But there is a big gap between the Australian cinema scene and the rest of the world, says John Tipp, director of the Australian Film Institute’s Asia Program.
“Chinese films are not being made in Australia and I think that’s very concerning,” he said.
“They’re not going to be seen in the States and there are no opportunities for Australian producers to work with Chinese producers, to try and bring Chinese cinema to the States.”
A big problem is the lack of a Chinese director to tell the story, says Mr Tipp.
“I think there’s a lack of confidence that there’s actually a director in the Chinese cinema who’s been there and done it and understands what’s happening in the country,” he explains.
“There’s no Chinese director who has done it successfully.”
It’s not just Hollywood, but film makers in Australia have been hit by Chinese films.
In 2012, the Australian film festival, the National Film and Television School, was closed in the wake of the financial crisis, and a series of Chinese-Australian films, including a feature film about a woman in her 30s, were released on the silver screen.
The same year, Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yeh was banned from entering Australia for 10 years for allegedly using racial slurs towards a journalist in China.
This year, a Chinese woman in the US was accused of being part of a film gang that filmed a racist advertisement for a local Chinese-owned grocery chain.
The Chinese cinema industry, and China in general, is facing a lot of criticism for its lack of progress.
Chinese filmmakers have also had difficulty accessing the lucrative Chinese film market.
Many of the films produced in China are not in English and are very difficult to market in the West, says the Australian producer.
“We have to work very hard to get the message out in China, to convince people in China that this is what they want to see and it’s not the kind of movie that they’ll be disappointed with,” he adds.
“When you get a lot less Chinese people involved in the story of the story and the story being told, that’s when you can get the film to the people.”
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