Chinese Art House Cinema to Receive Boost with A.R.T. Project
Five of China’s most powerful movie companies have come together to form the A.R.T. Project, an alliance which will provide funding and guaranteed theatrical releases for Chinese art house films.
The companies will invest a collective $16 million in 15 art house films over the next five years, and the films will include low-budget, high-quality projects from fledgling local directors. Benefits from the support of these big-name companies will include development resources, producer expertise, production financing, marketing services, and international festival and sales representation.
“The A.R.T. Project partners all agree that there is nothing more important than nurturing the new generation of Chinese filmmaking talent," said Edko Films’ chief Bill Kong. "We are up and running at full speed, with three releases confirmed for 2018, and look forward to bringing many exciting new films to audiences in China and beyond over the years to come.”
The venture was announced on the second day of the Beijing International Film Festival, and the participating studios include Huaxia Film Distribution, Edko Films, Perfect Village Entertainment, Irresistible Films, and Maoyan Media, an online ticketing platform.
China has had a boom in the production of commercial films over the past decade, but art house cinema struggled to find its place as its creators dealt with censorship, making it difficult for these films to get their fair share of screen space.
Art house cinema has found more support in recent years. In November 2016, the Chinese government established the National Arthouse Film Alliance, an indie film circuit managed by the China Film Archive and also supported by commercial cinema chains, including Edko.
“Over the last few years we’ve been thrilled to witness the Chinese audience’s growing appreciation of quality filmmaking, which has led to the breakout success of several Chinese arthouse films," added Ellen Eliasoph, CEO of Perfect Village Entertainment, a joint venture between Village Roadshow, Endeavor, and Perfect World, a Chinese studio. "The time has come for us to join forces to unlock the enormous potential of this sector and help China’s young filmmakers grow and thrive.”
Li Ruijun’s Walking Past the Future will be the first film touched by the A.R.T. Project. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017, and will be released theatrically in China on May 17. Later on in the year, the alliance will support Teng Congcong’s directorial debut Send Me to the Clouds, starring Yao Chen and Yuan Hong, and Liu Hao’s Poet, starring Song Jia and Zhu Yawen.