China may not be the best place you think of when it comes to movie stars, glitz and glamour. Yet, the country is the third biggest film producer in the world and even non-Chinese know what it has to offer. That is something the country's Presidents want to change.
Hu Jintao talks about the entertainment industry and says, “The country's cultural soft power should be improved significantly. We should continuously enhance the international influence of Chinese culture.” Some 900 films were made last year in China but industry insiders says there is a shortage of home grown expertise.
Zhang Wendo, Vice-President, New Classics Media reflecting on the trend says, “Chinese film industry is not as much matured or perfect as Hollywood. The industrial chain lacks experience in making, producing and promoting movies. Over the past years, the industry has been making up for their shortcomings by cooperation with International film companies.”
Apart from making many movies, the Chinese are also avid movie goers. Last year, they spent 2. 7 billion dollars on tickets making the country the second largest boom market in the world. Their more than half of the box office sales were for the 30 odd foreign films that were allowed in cinemas.
Heavy restrictions on domestic films do not help. Every movie needs government approval before being released and this means a marked absence of sensitive issues or gritty realism. A filmmaker expresses his frustration over the censorship and says, “Censorship leaves domestic filmmakers at a loss as to what to do. They don't know how to deal with contemporary subjects. They turned to classic stories that has nothing to do with reality. In comedies, they have nothing to do with current situations. Censorship has limited filmmakers' capacity of innovation.” Such obstruction is the basic problem for promoting China's soft power.