SUNNY SIDE OF THE DOC: Chinese broadcaster Beijing TV (BTV) today unveiled six new programmes and a production hub aimed at boosting international collaboration.
BTV’s HD Documentary Channel, one of more than a dozen networks in government-owned BTV’s stable, is producing six programmes: Water (1x100’), The Beijing Hotel (6x50’), My God! (5x50’), Stories on 115° (6x50’), Beijing Tigers Back on Our Mountains (1x100’) and The Chinese Dragon: More Than a Fairytale (2x50’).
Major new doc Water takes the premise that water is an increasingly rare commodity and looks at what would happen if it disappeared from the planet. It mixes 3D and live-action elements to show scenarios such as a city without liquid.
The Beijing Hotel looks at a famous city guesthouse once stayed in by Mao Tse-tung, while My God! explores people’s understanding of space. Stories on 115° (6x50’) examines historical episodes such as the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Beijing Tigers follows the return of Asian tigers to China from Africa. Finally, The Chinese Dragon focuses on Chinese traditions and symbolism.
The news came in a Chinese broadcaster session on the first day of French factual conference Sunnyside of the Doc, in which executive director of the HD Documentary Channel Dali Chen said the Chinese government had given the go-ahead to a new production institute, Beijing International Documentary Centre (BIDC).
BIDC will act as a training centre and a production hub for the HD Documentary Channel, which has spent past months marketing itself to the international coproduction community. It will launch a government-backed production fund and also host a global festival in conjunction with the Beijing TV Festival this year, featuring high-end docs from the past two years.
Session moderator Ruby Chen, of Chinese prodco group CNET Foundation, expressed concerns over what this could mean for rival broadcasters’ global copro ambitions, but BTV chief Dali Chen answered diplomatically: “The agreement isn’t going to be signed until next week, so I don’t know how much impact it’s going to have for other channels.”
The development comes as Chinese factual production companies and channels flood on to the international scene after the Communist government decreed they should both acquire more from the global market and coproduce more.
However, this hasn’t been entirely plain sailing. Earlier this month, a Chinese delegation pulled out of Sheffield Doc/Fest in protest at the festival’s decision to air a doc about Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei.