Insiders discuss how to build a global following for Chinese films
Despite a panorama of themes spanning history, relationships and social changes, the Chinese films shown at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) have attracted far less attention than English-language films at this annual film gala.
Big stars guarantee a large audience, a credo long embraced by Hollywood studios. At the 36th TIFF, which closed on Sunday, famous Hollywood actors including Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Jude Law, as well as Bono (Paul Hewson) of U2 showcased their new films on the red carpet. Yet none of Chinese films shown here brought any star power to Toronto.
Having been following Chinese films since the 1980s, TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey suggests that presenting Chinese film stars to North American audiences will be an effective way to promote Chinese films.
Bailey said what can really work is to make certain stars become very popular in the West. Chinese stars such as Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi are popular, but some other stars like Fan Bingbing and Tang Wei can also expand and find audience in North America. A good way to increase the popularity of Chinese films is to make Western audiences adore Chinese stars.
For North American audiences, the most familiar names among Chinese actors are Jackie Chan, Jet Li and other kung fu stars. As a symbol of Chinese culture, kung fu (martial arts) films are the most famous and have attracted the largest audience in the West.