TIFF12: Canadian filmmakers can bring deal-making expertise to Asia

Following the inaugural Asian Film Summit on Monday, TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey talks about the opportunities for Canadian filmmakers across the Pacific.
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During the Toronto International Film Festival, Playback is featuring a series of Q&As with festival programmers and insiders on trends in the films they program and the buzz they’re hearing from distributors.

In today’s installment, TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey delves into the opportunities for connections between the East and the West following the inaugural Asian Film Summit, which took place Sept. 10 at the Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Toronto.

The day-long event featured panel discussions ranging from financing and producing in Asia to how the East and West can work together to create a global future for film. The event culminated in an evening banquet emceed by producer Harvey Weinstein of U.S.-based Weinstein Entertainment, and a gala screening of Dangerous Liaisons, with director Hur Jin-ho and stars Zhang Ziyi and Jang Dong-gun attending.

What were some of the highlights for industry attendees at the Asian Film Summit? Did you hear anything that surprised you? What was it? Why was it a surprise?

I think the key highlight for industry attendees was connecting. It was great to see the legendary Bill Kong, producer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, hanging out with Ellen Eliasoph, head of Village Roadshow in Asia. Or Harvey Weinstein chatting with Eli Roth and Chen Kaige. What surprised me most was when Jackie Chan said the summit should take the show on the road, to Beijing, Tokyo and beyond.

In particular, what are some of the opportunities for Canadian filmmakers, producers and industry professionals that can come out of the Asian Film Summit?

Canadian filmmakers know how to co-produce. We’re a small territory so we’re natural dealmakers across territories. I think we can share expertise with filmmakers in emerging Asian territories, and we can learn about how to squeeze the most out of a production or marketing dollar from them. Montreal filmmaker Yung Chang and his Eyesteel colleagues are leading the way.

What is the future of the North American-Asian conversation? Where can the Canadian industry go in forming relationships with the Asian film industry? How do both parties benefit and thrive from the partnership?

I think we’ll succeed when filmmakers who already have connections in Asia work with government bodies like Telefilm Canada and the provincial agencies to make our film industry better known in Asia. We can also benefit from working with Canadian companies that are working successfully there, like IMAX.

Does TIFF have anything planned vis-à-vis the industry and Asia, going forward?

We’ll continue to seek out the best films we can from Asia to premiere in Toronto. This year we initiated a NETPAC jury prize for Asian films and we’ll continue that. Most importantly, we’ll continue to travel in Asia, getting to know the creative people and the businesspeople who are growing the Asian film industries at such a phenomenal rate.