The 3rd China Cultural Power Forum was held, Wei Zhang: Building a Film Powerhouse Should Satisfy the Imagination of Young Audiences

World Film Industry Conference (Photo: Business Wire)

LOS ANGELES--()--Recently, one of the important events of the World Film Industry Conference, the 3rd China Cultural Power Forum, organized by the China Film Academy, the Aollywood Film Workers Association, the Aollywood Cultural and Creative Industries Association and the China Cultural Industry Research Center, was held in Macau, with Wei Zhang, Jian Meng, Peter Qiu, Yabin Suo, Alang, Ziwen Song, Yuqing Zhu and Ti Zhang discussed and expressed their views about the topic of "Building a strong country requires more young people to enjoy films". Fei Tan, director of Aollywood Film Critics Association and founder of "Si Wei Du Shu", was the academic moderator in the forum.

Constructing a Film Powerhouse to Satisfy the Imagination of Young Audiences

Wei Zhang, executive vice president of China Film Critics Association, said that young people are the most imaginative audience. The major countries in the layout of the film, the promotion of film brands are mainly concentrated in sci-fi film and fantasy film, like Avatar, Transformers, Hulk, etc., even these film IP can be seen in a variety of children's appliances, clothes, shoes and hats. From this point of view, constructing a film powerhouse should also take into account the imagination of Millennial and Gen Z audience of Chinese films. From "Avatar 2" and "Wandering Earth 2", it seems that both Chinese and foreign films are highly innovative in terms of imagination, which is the main strategy to attract audiences, in other words, the imagination of world moviegoers should be satisfied. The recent Japanese animated film "Suzume" has been a hit at the box office in China during the off-season, not only because of its rich imagination, but also because it expressed the common human emotions and values. In addition, the means of film expression should be modernized. "When I was watching Avatar 2, I instinctively ducked when something came from under the water because it felt like it was coming straight at my eyes. All kinds of digital image means are young people's favorite way of expression, but also the way of visual acceptance, which is what we should strive for, is an important expression method and strategic means for us to win over the young audience, toward the film powerhouse."

President of the Center for Globalization Hong Kong and founder of the Peter Qiu Elite Club, Peter Qiu believed that the technological revolution would definitely overturn people's perceptions. To some extent, the decline of television and film is a technical issue, not a directional issue. The great era is coming. As a carrier of image art, the films must have a brilliant future. How to face the future, face young people and sell our films to them in the era of scientific and technological revolution? In any kind of business, we must first find the pain points of customers and provide solutions to them. Young people must have their pain points, but we have not found them yet. 400 years ago, Shakespeare proposed that "There are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people's eyes", but has it changed after 400 years? Scientific and technological means have changed a lot, but the eternal human thoughts and feelings have not changed, it is the shell that has changed, the eternal things inside are the same.

Jian Meng, professor at the School of Journalism and director of the National Research Center for Cultural Innovation at Fudan University, elaborated his views from three aspects. “First, beyond the roadmap and timeline for becoming a cultural powerhouse by 2035, a new perspective should be introduced, rising paradigm from culture to the civilization. Chinese modernization has created a new form of human civilization. Today, as China is increasingly modernizing, how to make such a product of civilization as film to help China further develop and achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is one of the latest themes we need to pay special attention to in this Cultural Power Forum. Secondly, as a cultural public system, how can culture play a better role in the aspiration of human beings for a better life, and how can film play a better role in human aesthetics and spiritual life? Thirdly, film is a great promoter of human spiritual civilization and the greenest industry, so “How can we better develop film industry?” probably the focus of this summit.

More Attempts Should Be Made to Allow Young Audiences to Interact with Film

Haoyue Han, a columnist and well-known film critic, said that new films in cinemas were not as attractive as they used to be, and his desire to watch films was decreasing no matter what promoters said. "If our generation's passion for films is not as high as before, young people's passion should be even lower. Films belong to the young people of the future. I have many ideas about how films will be accepted by young people, including the bullet-screen comments, the four-sided surround viewing format, and the audience can participate in the creation of films, etc. More attempts should be made to allow young audiences to interact with film, and some forms of interaction they have when watching short videos and live broadcasts should be transplanted to the cinema. Of course, older audiences may not accept it. If young people like it, we can open a separate hall for them and provide them with a special show to interact with the film.”

Ziwen Song, a veteran film media person and a famous film critic, said that the most important reason that young people are becoming more and more distant from films is that the real creators of films are not young people. Whether investors and producers behind the film, they have experienced a long growth stage, or even two generations, and they value the sentiments of films. But young people and Chinese films should not always live in sentiments, young people want to see the film with an eye on the future. What is the film to provide young people? It is a fantasy, a dream, but our current films have not considered, no one to focus on the present and future, this is a problem facing the creation of films. In addition, he called on the film industry to improve its service level and increase the functions of cinemas, "In this way our cinemas can truly realize the role of social groups."

According to Alang, the editor-in-chief of MOVIE VIEW, world film industry is at a crossroads, and almost all countries is imitating or borrowing from the Hollywood model. "We especially hope to see German films being German films and Chinese films being Chinese films. German films should grow in the land of Germany, while Chinese films should grow in the land of China, it brings Chinese history, humanities and various things that are a perspective for Chinese people to see the world.

Secondly, he wants to turn technology into a language of film, or into a tool for human communication. Third, he wants creators to treat young audiences as equals. Some creators used to be like preaching to young audiences, now they start to consider the needs of young audiences, "They will say I want to shoot for post-90s, but this symbolic, simple and crude definition is actually a kind of ingratiation, which is a typical relationship of arrogance and prejudice. Let the film return to the film, let the technology return to the technology, and let the audience return to the audience. The audience of the film is not divided into young people and old people, they are just the audience".

Films Should Attach Importance to the Emotional and Life Connection with Young Audiences

Yabin Suo, a professor at Communication University of China, gave examples from his years of teaching to echo the speeches of the previous experts. "I have been teaching film and television in colleges for more than 20 years, but in the past few years I feel less and less confident to speak, because the common language with students seems to be less and less, even if we all like films very much. I found that many students are in a misalignment between the film and their own actual love. For example, last year, there was a class called the Latest Film Seminar, discussing French films, and we took two films with very similar themes, one was "Les Miserables" in 2019 and the other was "Athena" last year, and asked students which film had higher artistic achievement, and everyone would say "Les Miserables". It was found that students liked to talk about "Athena" when they actually discussed it. I was also very impressed by their jump thinking when they watched and evaluated movies. Since this century, the whole world has only gradually entered the Internet era, and for many young people who grew up in this era, they are the natives of this world, while those of us who came from the last century are immigrants, so we may have a lot of things to learn and learn from them."

Yuqing Zhu, the founder of ONLINE FILM MARKET and the director of the China Film Foundation Film Investment and Financing Development Special Fund, said that a film powerhouse is an important element of a cultural powerhouse. How to retain young audiences and let young audiences continue to grow with films is a very big core issue of a film powerhouse. The core problem of film is still in the creation. Film is a process of emotional experience, not depending on how strong the production team behind the scenes is, but on whether it resonates and empathizes with the young audience. If we want the young audience, the mainstream audience, to like it, creation is the top priority. We need to pay attention to the story itself, to the emotions and life connection with the young audience, to understand the audience of about 22 years old now, and whether we really respect them, listen to them, and bring their stories to the screen. Without an audience, a film powerhouse is an empty words.

Ti Zhang, founder of the Hong Kong Stand By Me, believed that with the rapid changes in science and technology, "we often say what we can offer to young people, but the question I have to ask is 'what can young people offer us?' For those of us who work in the arts and culture, what young people bring to us is a vision and connection that allows us to keep moving forward with the community. I think ChatGPT helps us draw, write poetry and create, but it's really just a tool that allows us to connect with young people and see what they're doing and what they want."