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Festivals & events

02 May 2008 à 13:02

Review of the Panorama of French Cinema in China

The 5th Panorama of French Cinema in China closed with screenings at Beijing’s French Cultural Center on April 30.

Attendance Figures

Chengdu
3,750 admissions were registered, attracting an impressive average capacity audience of 92% per theater.
The 8 films were showcased in at least two, sometimes three, theaters.
Attendance figures at Chengdu were higher than last year, due to an expanded promotional campaign for French films and a selection that was well-received by audiences.

Wuhan
1,723 admissions were reregistered, with an average capacity audience of 95%.
The screening of short films as well as screenings of Hunting and Gathering and White Tuft, the Little Beaver drew packed houses.
This year’s Panorama returned to Wuhan after three years’ absence, with the selection presented in a new cinema. This venue pulled out all the stops to promote the event, with posters for all the films in the lobby and trailers of the films screened in a repeating loop in place three weeks prior to the start of screenings.

Beijing
1,520 admissions were registered, attracting an average capacity audience of 41%.
At the French Cultural Center, where just 7 screenings were held out of the 23 planned screenings, the average audience capacity was 75%.
Due to the current political climate in China, attendance at this year’s Panorama of French Cinema did not meet expectations, despite a dynamic promotional campaign and high expectations on the part of Beijing audiences for this major event. Unfortunately, large numbers of potential audiences chose not to attend the event, and the Panorama suffered from numerous booking cancellations and requests for reimbursement for advance purchased tickets.
 
A Difficult Political Context in China
We may remember that the event’s first public film screening in Beijing was held in the afternoon of Friday, April 11. Some hours earlier, the police questioned the theater manager, requesting the cancellation of the Panorama due to fears of disturbances. The screenings went ahead as planned, although there was a decline in audiences the following day.
Sunday’s screenings in provincial cities went smoothly, while attendance remained low in Beijing.
Text messages calling for a boycott of Carrefour supermarkets and French products were sent throughout the country.
On Monday in Chengdu and Wuhan, journalists and audiences began to ask questions about reports in the French press on events in Tibet and about the journey of the Olympic torch.
On Tuesday, the director of the Shanghai festival warned Unifrance of calls for a boycott or cancellation of the event, and explained that, as a precautionary measure, discussions would now be short and supervised by a member of their team.
The following day, the artistic delegation returned to France after a trouble-free stay, although delegation members questioned the dramatically reduced times allowed for discussions in Wuhan on Monday and in Shanghai on Tuesday.
All up, despite the turbulent context, the Panorama met with considerable success.

Other aspects of the event went smoothly: the opening ceremony was held in a festive atmosphere, clearly appreciated by audiences (including a Greek-inspired design, actors on stage, and so on). The selection of films met with enthusiasm, with audiences showing particular interest in the short film program, which drew full houses in every city.

Official meetings organized with China Film, Huaxia, and the SARFT were held on Friday, April 12 with Mr. Seydoux and Ms. Cayla. There was no political doublespeak this year, with questions about the very low number of French films reaching Chinese screens at this time answered by the SARFT with a pledge to consider all French films for release on a revenue-sharing arrangement. Chinese and French participants bade each other farewell vowing to remain in contact and planning to meet again either at the time of the next French film’s release in China, or in France, but, in any case, before the next Panorama.
Mr. Seydoux and Ms. Cayla expressed their interest in continuing their involvement in the Panorama event next year, and promised to boost resources so as to enable the participation of more French movie celebrities and a greater number of films, particularly short films. They also agreed to provide support to next year’s Panorama and thereby extend its overall impact by facilitating visits to China by French film stars to coincide with film releases.

Author : Christine Pernin

Latest update : 23 April 2009 à 13:02 CEST

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