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US and China head to deepen Art and Cultural ties, China to Invest in Hollywood

In August, Fenton will be taking a group of U.S. lawmakers to China to look at the country's growing entertainment and media industry, with the hope of even more Chinese investment in Hollywood

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U.S. first lady Melania Trump and China's first lady Peng Liyuan listen as students perform for them during a visit to Bak Middle School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida,Source-VOA

Los Angeles, May 24, 2017: On the political and military front, U.S.-China relations have been an often-tense dance between governments. However, in arts and education, many say the relationship is deepening. There is debate among Americans as to whether the ties are positive or negative.

Some say this is progress that is reaping economic and cultural benefits for citizens in both countries.

“When people collaborate on making anything artistic, there’s an emotional pull inside of that and if it works well, you not only have a great business, you also have a great diplomatic cohesion between the two countries,” said Chris Fenton, U.S.-Asia Institute Trustee and the President of DMG Entertainment.

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In August, Fenton will be taking a group of U.S. lawmakers to China to look at the country’s growing entertainment and media industry, with the hope of even more Chinese investment in Hollywood.

On Jan. 21, 2011, then-Chinese President Hu Jintao visits the The Confucius Institute which is housed at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago.
On Jan. 21, 2011, then-Chinese President Hu Jintao visits The Confucius Institute which is housed at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago. VOA

 

Chinese language and culture

China has also been investing in educating Americans in language and culture through its Confucius Institutes. Mandarin immersion kindergarten teacher Carol Chen says the University of California Los Angeles Confucius Institute has been a good resource for her and her students.

“For example, books and also resources of our Chinese cultures. One of the years, they actually brought Chinese folk culture tradition to the campus,” said Chen, who teaches at Broadway Elementary, a dual language immersion school.

Funded by the Chinese government, there are nearly 500 Confucius Institutes globally, most on university campuses. The UCLA Confucius Institute taps into the local Mandarin-speaking population to develop a pipeline of Mandarin teachers. It also provides cross-cultural programs in the arts.

“Bringing more artists together and exposing them to each other’s culture and to shared cultural experience with China, you’re sort of training, sort of a new generation of diplomats,” said Susan Pertel Jain, UCLA Confucius Institute Executive Director.

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But long-time critic and academic Perry Link says Confucius Institutes are an example of China’s soft power.

“Soft power is cultural or educational things that cause people in other countries to view one’s own country in a more friendly way. To reach out into the world with soft power is a new thing from the Chinese government’s point of view, but an important thing because the rest of the successful world seems to be doing it,” said Link, who is the University of California Riverside’s Chancellorial Chair for Innovation in Teaching Across Disciplines.

But Link says the presence of the Confucius Institutes on university campuses is dangerous because it often limits academic freedom to discuss China’s human rights issues.

“It’s induced self-censorship. That is, ‘We are going to give you these funds and you can invite speakers about China and the fund comes from Beijing and you know that and we know that.’ Now, as the director of a Confucius Institute, do you think, ‘Oh, I’ll invite the Dalai Lama’ to speak? No.Of course you don’t do that,” Link said.

But Jain said the UCLA Confucius Institute does not back away from touchy topics.

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“Whether it’s artists that we present there who were active in sort of [an] anti-government movement or whether it’s the screening of films that are maybe not officially approved by the government, we don’t shy away from that, but what we always tell our colleagues in China is that we promise to always present everything in a fair and balanced way,” said Jain.

The Hollywood Sign is pictured Aug. 23, 2016, in Los Angeles.

The Hollywood Sign is pictured Aug. 23, 2016, in Los Angeles.

Entertainment industry

In the past, Hollywood movies have been America’s example of soft power.

Last fall, 16 members of Congress wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office to express national security concerns about the growing number of Chinese investments in the United States, including in the media and entertainment industry.

“There is definitely a self-censorship. There is no doubt. I think the most obvious version of that was when self-censorship was not used and it really backfired,” said Fenton.

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China is close to becoming the top global market at the box office and one that is much desired by Hollywood executives. If China closes that door to certain production studios in Hollywood, it will hurt financially.

“It’s a very large piece of the pie because it’s roughly seven billion in dollars,” Fenton said. “If you’re thinking like a business person, there is a certain creative vision you should have for the content you’re making that if you want to call it self-censorship that’s fine, or you call it just good business.”(VOA)

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Oscar Nominees Furious Over Exclusion From Telecast

Rachael Stanley, the Executive Director of the Costume Designers Guild, lamented the loss of attention for her guild's industry siblings

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Hollywood filmmakers like Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo del Toro and leading craftspeople have condemned a decision by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to hand out four awards during commercial breaks in the hope of trimming the shows (Oscars) run time.

Nominees and their colleagues from the commercial-banished categories of cinematography, make-up and hairstyling, film editing, and live action shorts slammed the decision in interviews and via heated posts on social media, reports variety.com.

“I find it depressing that they are doing this. Hopefully it won’t be like the part of the show where they play clips from the Sci-Tech awards dinner. That always feels a bit sad, like they didn’t get invited to the real party,” said cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, a nominee this year for “Never Look Away”.

Deschanel is referencing the Academy’s annual Scientific and Technical Awards, held two weeks before the Oscars and typically hosted by a celebrity, which honours technical achievement in film.

Deschanel has been nominated six times stretching back to 1983’s “The Right Stuff”, but has yet to win.

Filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, a multiple-nominee for producing, directing, writing and cinematography for “Roma”, criticised the Academy’s decision.

“In the history of cinema, masterpieces have existed without sound, without colour, without a story, without actors and without music. No one single film has ever existed without cinematography and without editing,” wrote Cuaron.

Three-time Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki called it “an unfortunate decision”.

Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro said he “would not presume to suggest what categories to cut during the Oscars show but cinematography and editing are at the very heart of our craft”.

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An Oscar Award.

“They are not inherited from a theatrical tradition or a literary tradition. They are cinema itself,” del Toro said.

Drake Doremus, indie director behind the late Anton Yelchin’s “Like Crazy”, even called for a “boycott”.

In a memo outlining the changes, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President John Bailey said representatives from categories that were shunted off to the commercial breaks volunteered to have their award presented off-camera.

However, the board members who represent those crafts don’t speak for the unions or guild membership.

The show’s director, Glenn Weiss, will determine what emotionally resonant moments from the four speeches make it to air later in the broadcast, according to an individual close to the production.

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The show will cut any comment from presenters, as well as any recitation of the nominees, said the insider. While Bailey said the speeches will air in their entirety, that may not be the case on the big night as broadcasters reserve the right to cut them, the source said.

“This decision could be perceived as a separation and division of this creative process, thus minimising our fundamental creative contributions,” said Kees van Oostrum, President of American Society of Cinematographers, in a statement on Tuesday.

“To find out so close to the actual awards that you’ll be in the commercial break, it’s disappointing,” Lee Smith, last year’s film editing winner for “Dunkirk”, said.

Rachael Stanley, the Executive Director of the Costume Designers Guild, lamented the loss of attention for her guild’s industry siblings. (IANS)