1 Apr 2017

China Film Fest sweeps into Dunedin

10:33 am on 1 April 2017

The leading lights of the Chinese film industry have descended on Dunedin for the first official China Film Festival in New Zealand.

Farewell My Concubine, first released in 1993, will play in 3D in Dunedin at the first China Film Festival there.

Farewell My Concubine, first released in 1993, will play in 3D in Dunedin. Photo: Supplied

A large delegation of film heavyweights are in the city ahead of the two-day festival, which opened yesterday with cultural performances and speeches in the Octagon.

It followed an official visit by China's Premier Li Keqiang for talks with Prime Minister Bill English earlier in the week.

Organisers billed the festival as a chance for New Zealand film producers and post-production companies to forge business ties with China, as well as furthering cultural links between the two countries.

Shanghai Media Group editor-in-chief Teng Junjie

Shanghai Media Group editor-in-chief Teng Junjie Photo: Supplied

Film Dunedin spokesman Antony Deaker said members of Dunedin's Chinese community had told him they were "swelling with pride" to see the festival being held.

He said the visiting delegation was the equivalent of Hollywood executives coming to town.

"There's lots of reporting about the slow down in the relationship between China and Hollywood.

"Since [US President Donald] Trump came in, they're turning away and so it's just the fluke of timing and we'll see what happens."

Senior representatives include editor-in-chief Teng Junjie of Shanghai Media Group, one of China's largest media companies that employs 17,000 people.

Mr Teng also produced the festival's opening night film, Farewell My Concubine: The Bejing opera in 3D.

His visit got off to an inauspicious start on Thursday when his flight into Dunedin was delayed due to thick fog, causing him to miss a whole day of activities and a mayoral welcome.

Executives from IMAX and the Shanghai Film Distribution and Exhibition Association were also expected to attend.

Six internationally recognised recent-release feature films were planned for the weekend include martial arts film Ip Man 3, a crime comedy drama, and a romantic comedy.

New Zealand Film Commission spokesman Chris Payne said the festival should offer something for everyone.

Martial arts film Ip Man 3

Martial arts film Ip Man 3 Photo: Supplied

"It would be a shame for people to miss the films on offer, because they are terrific films and recent films."

He said China looked to New Zealand as a "little brother" and, due to our developed film industry, it was keen to partner with New Zealand producers and post production companies.

Dunedin-Shanghai Association chairperson Teresa Chan said Chinese film industry insiders had said post-production costs in China were high because signs of environmental pollution needed to be removed.

She said that could drive more Chinese filmmakers to film under clear skies in Otago.

Dunedin has a strong sister city relationship with Shanghai, and the event follows a New Zealand film festival there last year.

Dunedin was planning memorandum of understanding to continue holding New Zealand film festivals in China and China film festivals in Dunedin in alternating years.

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