Whistler unveils China Canada gateway film script winners

The second annual competition on Thursday started the long work of converting Canadian and Chinese film producers into coproduction partners.
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WHISTLER — With the feel of a matchmaking dance for village singles, the second annual China Canada gateway for film script competition on Thursday set about converting Canadian and Chinese film producers into possible coproduction partners.

Whistler did manage, after a day of pitching 12 projects to Chinese producers, to marry off some of its bachelor and bachelorettes.

Edko Film’s Mathew Tang paired off with Eric Johnson and Adria Budd Johnson for their romantic comedy The Shanghai Hotel, while Xian Film and TV Production’s H.E. Fangqiu chose the coming of age tale Zamboni, written by Brian Dick and Tricia Finn (pictured), and produced by J.P. Finn and Sacha McLean.

Zhao Zhiping of Beijing Guoyingshengshi Culture Communication partnered with the Misha Skoric produced comedy, Little Big Fish, written by Simone Stock and Shawn Tanaka.

Of course, it’s no small feat to see those Canadian and Chinese producers fall in love, nor is that the festival’s role.

Whistler will not be involved in any deals to be struck among the winning projects.

The expected average project budget will be $5 million.

The paired producers on Friday will begin a series of business meetings to hopefully cement ties, with no assurance of matrimony.

None of the three producer matches made at last year’s inaugural China Canada gateway competition have yet led to the cameras rolling on a movie.

Even so, the air at the networking reception at the Whistler conference centre, where the three latest projects selected were unveiled, was one of wishing for happy endings.

Jane Milner, the Whistler Film Festival’s director of special projects, said the 12 projects pitched Thursday were received in an atmosphere that “was open, optimistic and competitive.”

To bridge cultural differences and heightened expectations that stood in the way of last year’s crop of winning projects, Whistler this year aimed to present the Chinese producers with viable projects and informed Canadian producers.

The day kicked off with Liu Yan Shen, the vice chairman of the China TV Production Communication Association, offering intelligence on China’s growing film market, while local players provided a North American market perspective.

They included Voltage Pictures distribution head Elisabeth Costa De Beauregard Rose, Mark Slone, SVP of acquisitions at Entertainment One, and Cybill Lui, head of Anova Pictures.

Of course, as in real life where young people often ignore their parents’ wishes and choose their own partners, Whistler will now let go of the three projects optioned for development.

The Whistler Film Festival continues through Sunday.