Forum held to explore methods of exporting Chinese culture

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 2, 2021
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A forum was held Nov. 26 in Beijing to explore ways of exporting Chinese culture abroad – including Chinese film and art – to better enhance the influence of China's soft power.

Dr. Jack Gao, founder and CEO of Smart Cinema, speaks at the forum of "Ways and Methodologies: Enhancing the Influence of Chinese Culture" held at Beijing Normal University in Beijing, Nov. 26, 2021. [Photo courtesy of AICCC]

"Obviously now the film is the best and most effective way to show Chinese culture to the world," said Jack Gao, CEO of Smart Cinema, who was invited to the forum. The former Wanda executive noted that Chinese filmmakers not only need to find more international ways of developing narratives and artistic expression but also rely on new technologies and innovative communication methods to help Chinese film culture go beyond its own borders via cultural communication channels and precision marketing for overseas audiences.

In his opinion, online platforms and new technologies can break the dominance of Hollywood giants on international distribution channels, while 60 million overseas Chinese have a big role in spreading Chinese cultural products and helping promote international cultural dialogue and exchanges. 

What's more, Gao mentioned that he has spoken with numerous foreign diplomats about the films and he understood there should also be dual-direction exchanges with other countries. "It's the reciprocity," he said, adding that means when China wants to screen Chinese films in other countries, especially smaller countries, it should also give space and host more film exhibitions that include productions by filmmakers of other regions.

Gao's venture Smart Cinema, a virtual mobile cinema app that streams films online, has sold more than 72 million tickets for nearly 900 movies since its launch in 2018. It also has become the preferred partner for hosting virtual exhibitions of major international film festivals and has several localized versions in the United States, Europe and Asia. The app works with the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese (ACFROC) to share Chinese blockbusters with overseas Chinese audiences at traditional festivals and even provides new solutions for people who are visually or hearing impaired to enjoy movies.

Director Xie Fei speaks at one of five roundtable sessions during a forum that explored how to better promote Chinese culture overseas, hosted by Beijing Normal University in Beijing, Nov. 26, 2021. [Photo courtesy of AICCC]

The executive hosted a roundtable session under the banner, "New Paths and Methods for Chinese Films to Go Overseas," as part of the larger forum dubbed "Ways and Methodologies: Enhancing the Influence of Chinese Culture," which was sponsored by the Academy for International Communication of Chinese Culture (AICCC) of Beijing Normal University (BNU). The event was attended by legendary Chinese director Xie Fei and other veterans from different cultural and information technology sectors.

Speaking from experience, the 79-year-old Xie suggested that Chinese films can also be used for educational classes in foreign countries, which may not be as exciting as seeing them on the big screen but could have a lasting impact. Over the years, he has brought his films across the globe where they've been shown in lectures and exhibitions, supported by his own stories of Chinese culture. He also stressed that China should restore many classic domestic films, which could serve as a window into Chinese culture for the world. 

At the BNU forum, Hu Zhifeng, professor and vice president of Beijing Film Academy, said that the "commons" of Eastern and Western cultures primarily rest on three pillars: common perception, common emotion and common value. The three "commons" are effective ways and means to enhance the international influence of Chinese culture.

Attendees pose for a group photo after a forum on exploring how to better promote Chinese culture overseas concluded at Beijing Normal University in Beijing, Nov. 26, 2021. [Photo courtesy of AICCC]

Professor Huang Huilin, dean of the AICCC, elaborated, saying that there are currently three spirits to enhance the effectiveness of the international communication of Chinese culture: First, the anti-pandemic spirit demonstrates the connotation of the international communication of Chinese culture. The second is the spirit of exploration which can update the vocabulary of the international dissemination of Chinese culture. The third is the Olympic spirit to illuminate the vision of the international dissemination of Chinese culture.

David Ferguson, an author and editor with Foreign Languages Press, named "four confidences" of Chinese cultural communication. "It is necessary to have confidence in the theories, paths, political system and culture of Chinese socialism, and realize that China's system and the Chinese culture are not inferior to any country or culture in the world," he said.

A poster for the International Screening of AICCC "Looking China" film exhibition. [Image courtesy of Smart Cinema]

The forum ended with a launch ceremony for the International Screening of AICCC "Looking China" film exhibition, which highlights five short films and a feature film about China that were produced by foreign filmmakers, including "The Road of China," "Empathy," "Fight," "The Song of New China," "Country Wagons: What Did China's Modernization Leave Behind?" and "Jiaotong Teahouse." All of the films are available on Smart Cinema's international versions for free. Likewise, more titles will land on the virtual cinema app in the future, a spokesman for Smart Cinema revealed. 

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