It is highly likely a co-production treaty will be signedbetween Australia and China following an eight-day visit by a Chinesedelegation that ended on Saturday (Sept 25)

"There is a great enthusiasm on their part and anintention to conclude an agreement, and the same goes for us," said KimDalton, chief executive of the Australian Film Commission (AFC), which hostedthe high-level six person delegation. Included were Tony Gang, director generalof the China Film Bureau, and Guizhi Xue, president of the China FilmCo-production Corporation.

Dalton added: "Our proximity and smallness gives themcomfort. It is attractive that we are English speaking, already providingpost-production services for some of their leading filmmakers, and connectedinto the international marketplace, in particular Europe and the US.

"They are absolutely committed to their own localindustry and use similar language as us to describe the importance they attachto local films being seen. There are concerns about the growing dominance of USfilms."

Dalton reports that up to 30 projects - not all features and not all of them verydeveloped - were pitched to the delegation during informal meetings withAustralian producers. An official framework will assist the development ofshared stories able to speak to both audiences by helping filmmakers makeconnections and gain access to financing and production systems. Co-productionswill also be able to overstep the Chinese exhibition quota system.

"For quite some time Europe is likely to be our mainfocus and market but there is a growing interest in establishing a better andstronger connection with others in the region," said Dalton, who is amember f the Australian Korean Foundation and is attending the Pusan FilmFestival.

The Australian Government formally asked the AFC to explorea co-production treaty. China only has a treaty with Canada but is indiscussions with several other countries

Among the projects being developed in Australia with aChinese link are The Red Earth by producerTrish Lake (Gettin' Square) anddirector/co-writer Liselle Mei, and an adaptation of Mao's LastDancer by producer Jane Scott (Shine,Head On) and writer Jan Sardi (Shine). The book's author Li Cunxin now works in amajor stockbroking firm in Melbourne but was plucked from his peasant life tobecome a student at the Beijing Dance Academy and defected to the US in 1981.