Asia's moviemakers bullish for Cannes

Asia's moviemakers will descend on the Cannes film festival in bullish mood, their confidence boosted by resurgent box office figures and a rise in the number of films being made in the region.

Asia will have an impressive presence at the world's most prestigious film festival from May 12-23 for both the red carpet, with its attendant fanfare for stars and their films, and the film market that surrounds the main event.

There, international distribution deals are made and the financial wheels are set in motion for productions due to roll out over the next 12 months and beyond.

Hopes are high for Asian films in competition this year following the region's success 12 months ago.

Then, the Philippines' Brillante Mendoza was named best director for his work on "Kinatay", China's Mei Feng picked up the best screenplay award for "Spring Fever" and South Korea's Park Chan-wook won the jury prize for "Thirst".

There are an impressive five productions from the region among the 18 vying this year for the festival's main award, the Palme D'Or.

South Korea - whose films have long been favoured by the arthouse festival crowd - is in the running with Im Sang-soo's "The Housemaid" and Lee Chang-dong's "Poetry".

Asia's other entries are Japanese director Takeshi Kitano's "Outrage", Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul's "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" and China's Wang Xiaoshuai with "Chongqing Blues".

The market will also feature an eclectic selection of Asian films seeking attention and support.

These range from Indian beauty Mallika Sherawat playing a snake woman in "Hisss" to the small-scale Singaporean thriller "Blood Ties", from first-time director Chai Yee Wei.

But much of the attention will focus on what has been going on in China over the past 12 months.

The mainland Chinese film industry claims that, on average, one new cinema screen is opened every day and the country's box office takings last year soared to 6.2 billion yuan (908 million dollars) - a year-on-year rise of 44 percent.

While the James Cameron epic "Avatar" dominated takings with an estimated 1.3 billion yuan, a few local productions held their own, with "Founding of a Republic" taking more than 400 million yuan and 12 mainland Chinese productions breaking the 100 million yuan mark.

China has maintained its limit of 20 foreign films being allowed to screen in the country each year - meaning more and more Chinese productions are needed simply to fill cinemas.

There has been welcome news from other Asian film centres, too.

"There is plenty to be cheerful about," explains Patrick Frater, a veteran film industry commentator, who recently co-founded Film Business Asia, a Hong Kong-based "film industry intelligence service".

"There is a lot of excellent Asian cinema that is still not seen beyond national or regional borders. The way that Indian cinema is currently diversifying is certainly ill-appreciated.

"And in China there are many strong films that, because of how they are financed and taken to market, fail to get the critical or commercial recognition they deserve.

"Japanese and Korean films have proved strong enough to hold on to their shares of home markets despite the extraordinary performance of two or three huge Hollywood pictures last year.

"Meanwhile, there is much talk of revivals in the fortunes of Filipino and Hong Kong cinema."

For Kim Dong-ho, founder of the Pusan International Film Festival in South Korea - Asia's preeminent film festival - the signs over the past 12 months have been encouraging.

"It is a great success to see Korean films in competition in Cannes," he says.

"We are seeing an increase in production numbers again in South Korea after a few years of decline and we believe we are maintaining a high standard. Cannes is one way the world can see our films."

Frater agrees, saying Cannes plays an important role by not only screening the arthouse films which are staples at such festivals all over the world but also offering Asia's more commercial films a chance to be seen by international audiences and distributors.

"Sometimes it feels as if there are two parallel film industries," he explains.

"Most festivals tend to focus on arthouse films, either because they are less interested in commercial titles, or because they are not offered the biggest commercial films which use marketing muscle to reach their audiences.

"On the other hand, what is considered mainstream at home, may be labelled as exotic 'world cinema' elsewhere. Cannes is one festival that likes to mix it up."

The success of the likes of "Founding of a Republic" - a savvy retelling of China's history which featured an array of Chinese films stars - has revealed a rapidly developing commercial film-making scene.

And Frater believes the next step is for more of them to head to Cannes.

"Chinese films have a rapidly expanding home market and it makes sense for some titles to prioritise that," says Frater.

"But there are many Chinese films and Chinese directors would clearly benefit from being screened prominently at what is still the second biggest film event of the year (outside the Oscars) and the biggest film market in the world."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone