Speakers at the co-production panel, held as part of ‘Hong Kong Day’ yesterday, discussed how Chinese audiences are gravitating towards films that reflect one culture rather than co-productions or ‘hybrid’ films.

“China is just starting to open up and people are fascinated with the new entertainment. But nowadays the audience appreciates quality movies with originality and their own character, rather than something that just fits the co-production requirements,” said Tomson Entertainment senior vice president Yvonne Chuang.

Chuang used the example of films such as A Simple Life and Love In The Buff [pictured] that strongly reflected Hong Kong culture but performed well in both mainland China and Hong Kong.

Zhou Tiedong, president of China Film Promotion International, said Chinese filmmakers are keen to co-produce with Western companies in order to globalise their films: “China is rich in culture and stories, but the story-telling technique is still very traditional.”

However, the panellists agreed that both the US and China are still figuring out how to make co-productions work. “The Chinese censors are not fools - you can’t take a script and retrofit it,” said producer Tracey Trench, who is a consultant for DreamWorks’ new Chinese joint venture, Oriental DreamWorks.

Producer Janet Yang, whose credits include the Chinese version of High School Musical, observed that Hong Kong is usually somewhere in the mix with Sino-US co-productions - either as a source of crews and equipment or as an efficient and transparent hub to handle financial transactions.