The French Film Panorama in China was an opportunity, for the third consecutive year, to tour the country with 12 short fiction and animated films grouped together into 2 programs. These films were showcased along with 13 features presented in the Panorama.
This concept of presenting short films in specific programs in China was initiated in 2008 during the 5th Panorama. At that time, we set out with the idea of screening a small selection of short film films before an accompanying feature, as had been the case in previous years, and of trying out a "test" program completely devoted to short films. The session was an instant success. In Beijing, Wuhan, Chengdu and Shanghai, spectators flocked. They were curious and keen for more. Sessions sold out and the Q&A sessions were surprising and exciting.
The short film format, vaguely out of place up until then, had clearly been identified. Few short films, if any, are produced in China outside film schools; our films immediately generated enthusiasm. This format, a new one for Chinese audiences, appealed, which also enabled us to think about more specific distribution networks in a market where French features struggle to get a footing.
Last year, we reinforced the experience with the presentation of two programs, along with two people to accompany them. This year Canton was added to the list of cities where the Panorama tours. Audiences turned out in droves and their strong interest in this format was even more obvious to us. And this is without taking into account the presence of loyal spectators who come back year after year, or audiences' willingness to delve deeply into film.
Today, within Unifrance and our Short Film Commission, we continue to work before, during, and after the Panorama on this Sino-French axis. We need to make our approach credible and coherent, seek new networks, distribute our films, via television, DVD, or even non-theatrical networks, and perhaps, one day, on screens beyond the Panorama. In China, it's often said that nothing is impossible. The first results for short films are conclusive proof of this, so we allow ourselves to dream a little. For although the road ahead is long, it doesn't run at a number of minutes! We let Chinese spectators have the final world: "These little films are spaces of freedom for us. In a little over an hour, you took us on a journey and made us discover the world, other worlds, filmmakers, film. We thank you for bringing them to us."
Christine Gendre (Short Film Department Director)
Martine Vidalenc (Les Fées Productions, Vice-Chair of the Short Film Commission)