U.S.-Asian linkage in films to be topic

by Bonnie Britton

Movies’ globalization will be explored in a conference that begins Thursday at Notre Dame p(text). East meets Midwest when filmmakers and media experts gather Thursday at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend for a three-day conference titled “Hollywood, Asian Media and the Global Market.”

Mike Wan, an instructor in Notre Dame’s Department of Film, Television and Theatre, organized the event.

“In the last 10 years we’ve seen a lot of Asian filmmakers invited by Hollywood to direct films. Like John Woo, who directed Face/Off, Mission Impossible: 2 and many other films. And Ang Lee: His film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, won four Academy Awards,” Wan said by telephone from Notre Dame. "I just thought it’s time for us to sit down and examine the relationship of how Hollywood and Asian filmmakers influence each other.

“The unique thing about this conference is the combination of the leading scholars and also the leading figures in the entertainment world.”

One of the event’s participants is actress/producer Michelle Yeoh, who appeared in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Wing Chun (1994). Crouching Tiger, made for about $15 million, grossed more than $128 million domestically, and more than $200 million worldwide. The martial arts love story was named best foreign film of 2000 at the Academy Awards.

Wing Chun will screen at __ 7 p.m. Thursday, and Gen-X Cops will be shown at 9 p.m. Thursday, both in the William J. Carey auditorium in Hesburgh Library.

Crouching Tiger will be shown at 4 p.m. Saturday in DeBartolo Hall auditorium. Yeoh, who is a Datuk (the equivalent of a knight) in her native Malaysia, will speak after the showing. The events are free.

David Bordwell, author and film professor at the University of Wisconsin, will deliver opening remarks at 4 p.m. Thursday on “Asian Film, Western Audiences.”

William Pfeiffer, CEO of Hong Kong-based Celestial Pictures and a graduate of Notre Dame, will give the keynote address on “The Business of Contemporary Asian Media” at 4 p.m. Friday.

25 films next year

Pfeiffer, whom Wan calls “the most influential Hollywood executive in Asia in the last 20 years,” has held posts at Sony Pictures’ Columbia TriStar International Television and Walt Disney in Asia. Celestial boasts the largest film library in Asia. The company plans to make 12 films this year and 25 next year, according to Wan, adding that Hollywood studios don’t turn out 25 movies a year anymore.

American movie companies are looking at how they can capitalize on local talent in Asia, said Wan.

Raise the Red Lantern director Zhang __ Yimou’s new film Hero, for example, is being funded by Chinese, Hong Kong and U.S. investors. The Asian edition of Time magazine recently stated that “the hopes of all Asian cinema” ride on the shoulders of Hero, and asked if Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a fluke or a sign of a huge global market for Asian film.

“More and more we are going to see this kind of trend in the age of globalization,” Wan said. The conference’s purpose is to "sit down and examine all these things. That’s why we’ve invited the people who are making these things happen over there.

“Think globally . . . "

“In the 1960s, we were talking about a British invasion by the Beatles,” said Wan. "But today, it’s a new phenomenon in the film industry. For Hollywood they have a new slogan, philosophy in business. They call it ‘Think globally, script locally.’ " __ While the conference is aimed at Notre Dame students, Wan has received inquiries from New York, San Francisco, New Zealand and elsewhere. “The audience is pretty diverse.” MBA students have shown a lot of interest, he said, because they’re looking at the business side of entertainment

Wan said he talked to Jane Rulon, director of the Indiana Film Commission, who will be attending the conference.

“You look at Vancouver these days, a lot of Hollywood films are made in Vancouver because it’s a lot cheaper. We’re going to explore that a little bit. Maybe there are things we can all, through the publicity . . . raise the profile of Indiana in the filmmaking industry,” Wan said.

February 27, 2002

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