“Nevertheless, we still work on the development of a specific audience in China, particularly fans of European culture and brands. Given the small level of our budgets, this ‘niche’ audience would already be very profitable,” Girre said.
While it is unclear exactly how many Euro-Asian productions are currently under way, the ACE program in Hong Kong is working on 16: five from the EU, one from New Zealand and 10 from the Chinese-language market — including China, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Japan’s box office also had record takings of US$2.15 billion last year, up 7.7 percent from 2011, according to industry figures.
Critics have built a buzz around Japan-based Welshman John Williams’ production Sado Tempest since its limited release in Tokyo last month.
The film — a reworking of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which sees a rock band imprisoned on Japan’s Sado Island — is a joint production between filmmakers from Hong Kong, Britain, Japan and South Africa.
“It looks complex, but we did it in a simple and efficient way, with low legal costs. We went from inception to screen in just over three years,” Williams said.
“There are more and more foreign directors working in Japan now. The industry is opening up here and this is very positive. What we still lack in Japan and what would really make a difference is government or regional government support for development. This is what hampers many producers here,” he said.
Daniel Kim, who heads the Asian Film Market event that hosts the “Ties That Bind” program in Busan every October, believes that as the region’s market expands, more international filmmakers will look to take their chances.
“The population of Asia is about five times larger than Europe. It’s time for Asia and Europe to learn more about each other’s culture, film industry and make a firm network,” he said.