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It’s rare for emerging American screenwriters to have their films enter the Chinese market—largely because an import quota established by the Chinese government both restricts the number of premium feature films allowed to enter the country from the US and sets a cap on the market share they are able to garner in Chinese box offices. However, screenwriters now have a chance to reach the Chinese population through a less mainstream avenue.
The Beijing State-Owned Cultural Assets Supervision and Administration Office has launched the 2013 Beijing International Screenwriting Competition to encourage screenwriters living in the US to produce works that feature China and to encourage collaboration between these writers and Chinese producers, actors, and directors. The competition is open to writers of any nationality who are based in the United States. International exchange students who are studying in the US or non-citizens also have the opportunity to see their writing come to life in Beijing.
The event has prize opportunities in both feature film and short film categories. Screenplays must focus on Beijing and, according to the event’s press release, attempt to convey the romance, mystery, and cultural diversity of Beijing. Films must be centered around the Chinese capital, but their storyline should be accessible to both Chinese and American audiences. Finalists will win an all-expenses-paid week-long trip to Beijing as well as cash prizes and the opportunity to have their film financed by Chinese investors. The short film category is open exclusively to college students and recent college graduates. Seven short film screenwriters will have their films financed for production.
“One of the ultimate goals of the competition is for films to result,” event publicist Chris DeHaan says. “The goal is to foster closer cultural relations between entertainment communities.” The idea for the competition came from Harvardwood, a nonprofit organization consisting of Harvard affiliates working in the arts, media, and entertainment. More Harvard connections helped bring the event to fruition: two-time Academy Award winning documentary film director Mark Jonathan Harris ‘63 and Tracey Trench ‘85, a producer whose works include “The Pink Panther” and “Ever After.”
The competition is jointly sponsored by Harvardwood, Chinese online content distributor LeTV, and Beijing International Creative Industry Corporation. According to the Beijing Municipal Government, it is an opportunity to expand China’s global cultural influence. The Beijing Municipal Government is using this contest to continue its “Going Abroad, Inviting In” campaign, which seeks to establish a Chinese cultural presence in the global arena while embracing other international cultures. The feature film category entails a 5-11 page script, due by April 7. Short film scripts are required to be 3-11 pages, due by April 20.
—Staff writer Charlotte M. Kreger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article has been revised to reflect the following corrections:
CORRECTIONS: April 11, 2013
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that seven screenwriters will receive a prize of a free trip and a chance to pitch their story to investors. In fact, the winners will have their films financed for production. The story also incorrectly stated that the feature film and short film competition categories require the submission of proposals. In fact, those categories require applicants to submit scripts.
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