Making people-oriented mainstream blockbusters

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 25, 2021
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A veteran film executive at a seminar Tuesday in Beijing explained why China Film Co., Ltd., the country's biggest state-owned studio, has in recent years insisted on making mainstream films from the perspective of ordinary people.

Film experts pose for a group photo at a recent seminar in Beijing where they discussed new film "Embrace Again" and the importance of a people-oriented approach to mainstream filmmaking, Dec. 21, 2021. [Photo courtesy of China Film Co., Ltd.]

Fu Ruoqing, general manager of the company and chief producer of the upcoming anti-pandemic film "Embrace Again," said the new film is to show how people cared for, helped, and supported each other through the lockdown in the pandemic's former epicenter of Wuhan during the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak.

"We didn't want to make it a tragedy epic, we didn't want to directly cover the pandemic, but we still hoped we could bring narratives about the people of Wuhan and their incredibly kind and loving nature to audiences. We wanted it to be truthful, emotional, and sincere," he said, adding they toned down or consciously avoided tragic scenes like death and emergency treatment in order to deliver hope and warmth rather than sadness.

"Embrace Again," directed by director Xue Xiaolu and starring Huang Bo, Jia Ling, Xu Fan, and Zhu Yilong, will hit cinemas on the last day of 2021. It is inspired by the true story of Wang Yong, a delivery man who organized a volunteer team to provide commutes for many medical workers during Wuhan's lockdown. The script was expanded to portray the connections between ordinary people-turned-heroes and families, forming a picture that reflects the Wuhan people's optimistic and positive spirit. The film's presale box office total has already reached 50 million yuan.

Fu shared that his company China Film Co., Ltd. and the whole film industry have been rocked by the pandemic over the past two years, but have continued to insist on making a people-oriented, realistic, and creative approach. This is also reflected in many mainstream blockbusters produced and invested in by the company to mark the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), such as "1921," "Cliff Walkers," "My Country, My Parents," and "Cloudy Mountain."

He promised that they will make more high-quality films to promote the Chinese film industry and to help it reach new peaks. Fu also announced several of the company's new projects, including the sequel to "The Wandering Earth," China's highest-grossing sci-fi epic, which is now being shot in Qingdao, Shandong province, as well as a two-or-more epic war film project tentatively named "The Great War," which will start filming next April. 

"Frant Gwo's 'The Wandering Earth 2' is shot in 26 soundstages, which are built to a high standard, with many items surpassing Weta Workshop's equipment. This is a real world-class sci-fi epic. Now, we are toying various ideas about the franchise and merchandise, including the idea of a future sci-fi theme park that can showcase how far Chinese film industry has developed, and what high-tech approaches Chinese filmmakers are using," Fu said.

China Film Co., Ltd. expects to start shooting seven or eight new movies across various genres after the upcoming Spring Festival, and work with other studios on another 10 to 20 films next year, Fu said, bringing the total number of films that the company is looking to finance next year to around 30. "After the pandemic, after the withdrawal of massive capital investment ventures from the film market, we hope our company can still support and promote the whole film industry as a national brand," Fu added.

Later in the seminar, experts praised "Embrace Again" and a people-oriented approach for mainstream films. Yin Hong, vice chairman of the China Film Association and a professor at Tsinghua University, noted that "Embrace Again" set an example of how to tell a good Chinese story and present a favorable Chinese image, making China's ordinary people look more three-dimensional and vivid. Zhang Wei, executive vice president of the China Film Critics Association, said the film's multi-storyline, multi-character narrative made it well-rounded and showed what ordinary people's lives are really like, helping it to resonate with audiences and allowing them to see themselves in the film.  

Zhou Xia, associate researcher of the China Film Art Research Center, added that the female director avoided a grandiose narrative and instead used a microscopic view and details to create a tender, warm, romantic, and poetic quality to the film. "The film cleverly delivers a distinct female consciousness, independent female image, and modern female values," said Zhou.

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