Renowned Chinese film director Lu Chuan discussed Monday with his British counterpart Iain Softley the challenges in making films from literary works.
As one of the featured activities during the just-opened 2012 London Book Fair, the conversation attracted a large audience at the Earls Court Exhibition Center.
The pair started from the development of local films. Lu said that 34 Hollywood movies will be shown in Chinese cinemas this year, which poses a big challenge to Chinese domestic producers and directors.
Lu, now one of the most prestigious film directors in China, firstly gained nationwide reputation for his movie "Kekexili: Mountain Patrol," which depicts the struggle between vigilant rangers and poachers in a remote Tibetan region.
Softley noted that similar concerns were expressed in Britain as well, and there were even proposals to hold a "British film week" especially for local-produced films.
"A survey showed that 80 percent of the British people want to see more British films," Softley said.
When it comes to film adaptation, Lu described literature as a "core driving-force" for cinema, saying that many excellent Chinese movies are adapted from literary works by first-class writers.
Making films based on best-sellers has already become a mode, said Softley, adding that the reputation of a good book always helps the publicity of adapted films.
However, he saw film adaptation as a process of re-invention. He gave the example of his film "Wings of the Dove." "When I read the book, I thought it was impossible to make the film," he recalled.
But then he put away the book, and re-invented the film from his memory. The film later became a big success and got four Oscar nominations.
Of course such re-invention could be risky. In his film Inkheart, he changed a lot in the third act, for which he was criticized by many German audience who have read the original story.
The dilemma was felt by Lu as well. "In China, there are three types of audiences: those who have read the novel, those who haven't and the author himself," he said. "It is really hard to satisfy them all."
It is even harder to make films based on classical masterpieces, such as "A Dream of Red Mansions." "Any change would invite criticism from the audience," he said.
But Lu still believed a director should be brave. "We are grateful that the authors give us inspiration, but to make a film you have to put your own thoughts into the original works."
Softley echoed the view, saying that directors should be bold in this regard. "I never regret for being bold," he added. "My regret is I am not bold enough."