Chinese films have gradually found the meaning of their relationship with Hollywood films, as the industry celebrates its 100th anniversary. But how will Chinese films continue to explore their way into Hollywood? And what role will they play in Hollywood cultural diversity? At a forum held during the 9th Shanghai International Film Festival, Directors Ang Lee and Feng Xiaogang offered their opinions.
The forum, entitled "Differences and Similarities: The Relationship between Chinese and Hollywood Films" is the highlight of this year's Shanghai International Film Festival. It has attracted the attendance of over 600 industry insiders and media workers, as well as famous directors Ang Lee and Feng Xiaogang.
Feng Xiaogang described how he has witnessed the development of Chinese films.
"In 1997 when the Chinese film industry was in a down period, I decided to set foot in it. Perhaps thanks to the depression of the film market, I, as a rookie, stood out. My first film brought in box office revenue of 28 million yuan and became that year's box office winner. Since then, the domestic film industry has greatly expanded in only nine years. Now a box office return of 80 thousand yuan can't ensure you a position in the top 8 movies of the year."
But while China's domestic film market is expanding quickly, Feng confesses that Chinese films still face a great challenge in the western world.
"When I bring some of my work to foreign countries, many westerners have said they didn't understand my movies. I was quite puzzled as my movies are really easy to understand. Then I found they didn't understand just because they didn't care about it. Chinese culture isn't in a powerful position there."
However, the global success of Ang Lee, who is famous for his thought-provoking style and Chinese philosophy in his films, is a big encouragement to filmmakers in China and a sign that Chinese culture is gaining attention worldwide.
Ang Lee offers his secret of success in Hollywood.
"Chinese films should preserve their very own character, because no matter how hard you try to imitate the Hollywood style, your movies won't be more Hollywood-like than their own movies. My films are successful in the United States just because I look into their society with my Chinese perspective and my films serve as a mirror."
Lee also believes a true-to-life and moving theme is the global criteria for a good movie.
"The basic elements of a movie are the same. Whether it's a touching and true-to-life story is up to people's own criteria to judge. Cultural diversity and mutuality don't always contradict. I, a director from Taiwan, shoot a movie about homosexual love between two cowboys in the Western US, and the movie is popular in Switzerland. That's a good example from my point of view."
(CRI June 22, 2006)