China's bankable film director Feng Xiaogang, currently on an anti-piracy crusade, has candidly admitted that in his younger and poorer days he used to buy pirated DVDs himself, saying he now "felt ashamed" about that.
At the Shanghai Film Festival, Feng proclaimed a "war" against piracy, saying it was costing him personally a ton of money.
"Forbes Fortune estimated my income last year at over 12 million yuan (US$1.6 million). Actually, because of my influence in the Chinese film market, I can earn even more than that.
But, because of piracy, my income is just two million yuan per film which usually take two years to shoot," Feng told the film festival public in an attempt to highlight the baneful effects of piracy.
Feng recently shot an anti-piracy film trailer for free with famous mainland actor Huang Xiaoming and and actress Li Bingbing, hoping the trailer would spur the public's awareness of piracy issues.
"In China we are hooked on pirated DVDs because of their low price and the range of titles available, without realizing how much we lose -- our reputation has been ruined, because foreigners think China is flooded with pirated goods and have taken steps to sanction us," Feng said.
Acknowledging that some medium or small-budget domestic films have no chances to screen in cinemas and their directors therefore depend on pirated DVDs for access to an audience, Feng advised
"That's the wrong approach. If intellectual property owners do not respect their own brainchild, how can anyone else respect their works?"
Feng Xiaogang, one of the most famous directors in China, has reaped big box office success with films such as Big Shot's Funeral, Cell Phone, A World Without Thieves and The Banquet.
China confiscated around 110 million illegal CDs and DVDs in 2006, according to the Ministry of Culture.
(Xinhua News Agency June 21, 2007)