Kungfu Panda Scores in China, But …

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Reuters – Saturday, July 5By Simon Rabinovitch

BEIJING – More than just a box-office hit in China, animated Hollywood comedy “Kung Fu Panda” has led Chinese artists to find fault with their own film industry and call for fewer government controls on culture.

The movie, which tells the story of a fat panda who dreams of martial arts glory, was faithful to Chinese culture and laced with good humor, but China itself may have been incapable of producing such a film, a Chinese filmmaker and opera director lamented.

“The film’s protagonist is China’s national treasure and all the elements are Chinese, but why didn’t we make such a film?” Wu Jiang, president of the China National Peking Opera Company, was cited as saying by Xinhua news agency on Saturday.

Lu Chuan, a young film director, applauded “Kung Fu Panda” as a fresh and rich take on Chinese culture, mixing references to martial arts films with classic legends.

“I cannot help wondering when China will be able to produce a movie of this caliber,” he wrote in the China Daily on Saturday.

Lu said the government was stifling the creativity of China’s filmmakers, explaining how he had been asked to make an animated film for the Olympic Games, which will be hosted by Beijing in August, but decided to walk away from the project.

“I kept receiving directions and orders on how the movie should be like,” he said. “The fun and joy from doing something interesting left us, together with our imagination and creativity.”

An advisory body to the country’s rubber-stamp parliament debated this week why a film like “Kung Fu Panda,” produced by DreamWorks Animation, had not been made in China, Xinhua reported.

A standing committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress said that, though there was no secret ingredient to filmmaking success, the government ought to relax its oversight. Opening more space for Chinese artists would allow more innovation, ultimately giving China greater cultural influence abroad, they concluded.

Some Chinese critics had called for a boycott of “Kung Fu Panda” because Steven Spielberg, an executive at DreamWorks, quit his role as artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics to protest China’s links to the Sudanese government.

Zhao Bandi, a Chinese artist who features pandas in his work, also called for people to shun the film, saying that foreigners were profiteering from China’s national symbol.

But Zhao has since come under fire from Chinese critics for misguided nationalism, while theatre operators have reported packed houses for “Kung Fu Panda.”

The comedy had earned $16 million at the Chinese box office as of Wednesday, according to its distributors. Any film that grosses $15 million is considered a big hit in China.

Source: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/rtrs/20080705/ten-entertainment-china-film-panda-dc-db3f2d5.html

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"Aldric Chang is the Founding Managing Director of the Mediafreaks group and is best described as a creative entrepreneur with business interests in internet marketing, virtual worlds for kids, animation, cartoons, interactive digital media, web 2.0 and music. He shares money making tips on http://www.AldricChang.com."

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4 Comments For This Post

  1. mantas Says:

    wwwwowow. one could argue the artistick value of this film,
    but from your article it seems that its cultural inpact to china was super positive! i doubt that it was piksars intention, but wow, i totaly didnt expected such reaction from china’s artists.
    such official statements are hudge step forvard in my opinion!
    hopefuly soon well see not only politician directed art from china

  2. Aldric Chang Says:

    Hi Mantas, thanks for your opinions.

    I agree with you that China needs more freedom of expression where art is concerned, but they do need to be open-minded too to accept influence from other countries and be humble and learn. Right now from my experience most Chinese animators are sound technically but lacking in creativity.

    Even without political direction, I doubt at this moment they can do something as good as Kung Fu Panda. It is the culture and the lack of exposure to good working styles and international creativity.

    When the government slowly opens up and allows them to see more foreign content and encourage collaboration with international partners, then perhaps they will start getting onto the real right track.

  3. mantas Says:

    I totally agree. it would be cool if there would be some organisation (not govermental? assosiation of animators or somthing like that) who would send people abrod for internships. as u say to get exposure, that could be also done by animation schools, well but i guess it would be hard, anywais just an idea…,
    best, and nice blog/website/marketing tool with nofolow tag :)

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