Filmmaking: Tips, Sources & Tools — March 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm

China launches screenwriting competition for U.S. writers

china-screenwriting-competitionU.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, HR reported.

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.

In a statement, the competition was described as an “unprecedented opportunity for aspiring and established U.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.”

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.

China’s box office grew by 30 percent to reach $2.74 billion, according to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), making it the second biggest box office territory in the world.

Chinese filmmakers produced 893 films last year, including 745 feature films and 33 animated films, according to latest data published by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

Revenues of domestic films surpassed that of foreign films for the first time in 2003, when China initiated reforms to boost its fledgling film industry and continued to do so through 2011.

According to the agreement, China increased its annual import quota of Hollywood blockbusters from 20 to 34 and lifted their share of revenue from 17.5 percent to 25 percent.

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