Spotlights on Shanghai International Film Festival

August 2008

"Mukha" Russian filmmaker Vladimir Kott's directorial debut scored the top prize at the 11th Shanghai International Film Festival.

While Beijing was starting to burn with the Summer Olympics heat in June, China’s largest city, Shanghai, was welcoming a star studded international cast to the 11th Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF). Famous directors and producers, glamorous actresses and suave leading men posed for cameras as they walked up the red carpet on opening night. The competition lineup included films from Argentina, China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Lithuania, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and Russia.

A series of fora took place during the Festival, including the National Symposium on Copyright and Related Rights in the Film and Audiovisual Sector, organized by WIPO in cooperation with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television of China (SARFT) and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea. The Festival offered an ideal opportunity to attract film and television producers as well as representatives of media, distribution companies to participate in the Symposium.

Shanghai as a film center

The booming, bustling, 1930s Shanghai was the birthplace and the center of Asian cinema. Its film industry was second only to Hollywood. Shanghai lost this prized position as other Asian countries built up their cinema. But Shanghai’s star is now on the rise – due mainly to the new market economic reforms of the 1990s. At the first Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) 1993, four of the 19 competitors received Golden Cup Awards and one a Special Jury Award. A total audience of 300,000 viewed 167 films from 33 countries. Today, Shanghai is one of the few A-list international film festivals in Asia. It is considered to be at par with Cannes Festival, both are recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations.

In addition to art and commercial films, SIFF presents independent films, short films and documentaries from diverse cultural backgrounds. Many may have already been screened overseas, but the Festival provides the first opportunity for local audiences to view the films in China.

Backed by SIFF’s support for foreign investments and co-production deals, Shanghai is regaining its place in the cinema industry within China and beyond.

WIPO Symposium

The opening ceremony to the WIPO Symposium. (Photo: SARFT)

The first theme in the WIPO Symposium, “New Challenges for the Production and Distribution of Audiovisual Content,” addressed the challenges for global accessibility to copyright content in the digital environment, highlighting current issues in China including the structure of legal protection for audiovisual content. In the next session, “Maximizing the Value of Audiovisual Content: Contract and Licenses,” specialists from China, the U.K., Hong Kong, the U.S. and Korea addressed hot topics such as the principal rights owners in a film – producers, directors, cinematographers, etc. – and how to secure the widest possible grant of rights in order to maximize the value of the film.

Other presentations dealt with audiovisual licensing in Korea, including the role of the judiciary, emerging film business models and threats, the role of new technologies in digital film production, and perspectives for the future on collective licensing in the Chinese film industry.

The seminar closed with a panel discussion where speakers and participants exchanged views on issues such as pricing mechanisms for “video on demand” services; the legal ins-and-outs of protecting television show formats; statutory licensing systems for film creators in other countries, etc.

Throughout the Symposium, participants showed a real-world understanding of the grim effects of piracy on audiovisual revenues and the critical importance of effective IP rights enforcement. The Symposium thus made a timely contribution to the growth potential of China’s emergent film industry, as it seeks to provide a solid basis for remunerating its film creators while meeting mushrooming global demand for high-quality film content.


By Sylvie Castonguay, WIPO Magazine Editorial Team, Communications and Public Outreach Division
Acknowledgement Richard Owens, Director, Copyright E-Commerce Technology and Management Division

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