Italian Screens held in Beijing fosters Sino-Italian cinematic collaboration
Published: Nov 19, 2023 05:26 PM
 Photo: Courtesy of the Beijing Italian Institute of Culture

Photo: Courtesy of the Cinecittà for the Directorate General for Cinema and Audiovisual of the Italian Ministry of Culture

The "Italian Screens: New Italian Cinema in Beijing" was held at the Italian Institute of Culture, Embassy of Italy in Beijing on Friday, marking a pivotal moment in the collaboration between the film industries of Italy and China. 

The event, co-organized by Cinecittt for the Directorate General for Cinema and Audiovisual of the Italian Ministry of Culture, in collaboration with the Italian Embassy in China and the Beijing Italian Institute of Culture, aimed to showcase the best of Italian contemporary films, encourage film distribution, and facilitate collaborations in the realms of film and culture between the two countries.

Italian Ambassador to China Massimo Ambrosetti expressed anticipation for the event to "enhance the existing collaboration in film between the two nations, paving the way for innovative ideas and opportunities for our shared future development" at the press conference.

Head of Special Projects, Directorate General for Cinema and Audiovisual of the Italian Ministry of Culture (DGCA-MiC) at Cinecittà Roberto Stabile said the mission of "Italian Screens" is to globally promote Italian films through both cultural and industrial channels, facilitating enhanced local distribution. 

"We've observed a notable surge in the popularity of Italian films among Chinese audiences, both in theaters and on streaming platforms," Roberto said at the press conference.

Roberto told Global Times that there is a longstanding history of film collaboration between China and Italy, citing the example of the acclaimed movie The Last Emperor, produced in 1987 with the collaboration of China, Italy and the UK.

"Although replicating the success of The Last Emperor may be challenging, both nations can start by reinforcing their cooperation in the film industry," he said.

According to Stabile, they aim to extend the reach of Italian cinema along the Great Wall, across various provinces in China. 

"We also place significant importance on active participation in prominent film festivals in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai," Roberto noted.

He noted there will be a dedicated segment at the upcoming 5th Hainan Island International Film Festival in December, at which six latest Italian masterpieces will be presented to the Chinese audience.

Italy has also been dedicated to organizing events specifically tailored to showcase Chinese cinema, such as the "Focus on China" segment at the prestigious Venice Film Festival since 2016, which served as a platform for Chinese filmmakers to exchange views and explore opportunities in Italy. 

Stabile referred to a recent screening of the Chinese film Creation of the GodsⅠ: Kingdom of Storms at the presence of the director Wuershan, actor Kris Phillips, producer Luo Shanshan, at this year's Venice Film Festival Market as a part of the Focus China organized by him.

"We hope to bring together filmmakers from Italy and China in places like Venice, Beijing and Shanghai, etc., to engage in creative collisions of ideas and to generate better stories, some new narratives," Stabile told the Global Times.

At the Friday event, a captivating showreel of Italian cinema was screened, showing many iconic Hollywood movies that have been shot in Italy, including The Avengers, the 007 series, and Wonder Woman. 

Italy has ramped up efforts to attract international filmmakers to shoot in the country. The Italian Film Distribution Fund, designed to boost the overseas release of Italian films, is open for applications globally, offering an annual support fund of up to 2.1 million euros. Films released in theaters are eligible for funding support, with a maximum cap of 50,000 euros per film, while online releases can secure up to 15,000 euros per film. 

Moreover, Italy, at both the national and regional levels, provides tax incentives to facilitate the production of foreign films within the country. The Italian tax credit allows a saving of up to 40% on eligible production costs.

On Thursday, the China Film Archive in Beijing hosted the screening of the Italian film Olimpia's Way ("Acqua e Anice"). Staring the acclaimed Stefania Sandrelli, the film was an official selection of the 2022 Venice Film Festival Giornate degli Autori. It rated at 8.4 out of 10 on Douban, China's version of IMDb.

Following the Beijing special event, "Italian Screens" is set up to showcase 10 Italian films, including Brado, Dante and Hypersleep, in Hong Kong from November 23 to 30.

"Sustaining the cinematic collaboration between China and Italy remains an enduring commitment for us," Roberto remarked.