Denmark has signed a co-production treaty with China, giving the Nordic nation access to the Middle Kingdom's booming box office and opening new opportunities for European-Chinese cooperation.
China already has co-production treaties in place with several European countries, including France, the U.K., Italy and Spain, as well as with the likes of India, Australia and South Korea.
Under the agreement, negotiated by China's state media body SAPPRFT and the Danish Film Institute, Chinese films can apply for funding from the Danish institute. Importantly, Danish-Chinese co-productions will qualify as Chinese and not be subject to China's strict quota on foreign film imports. Currently, China only allows 38 foreign films per year in the country to be released theatrically.
"The agreement will be important to both parties, both economically and culturally," said Danish Film Institute CEO Henrik Bo Nielsen. "A co-production agreement will make it easier for Danish companies to get access to the enormous Chinese theatrical market, where even small Danish films can reach quite a large audience."
The deal could prove a major boost for Denmark, which up until now has only ever had one film released theatrically in China under the quota: Kasper Barfoed's The Candidate in 2008. The second will be Kenneth Kainz's fantasy feature The Shamer's Daughter, which was just accepted under the quota and will bow in China later this year.
From their position in a small nation with a limited domestic audience, Danish producers are among the most adept in Europe at setting up international co-productions, and several Danish companies have already established links with the Chinese film industry.
TrustNordisk and Copenhagen Bombay have ongoing development projects, sales group LevelK has an office in Hong Kong, and Oscar-winning director Bille August (Pele The Conqueror) is currently in postproduction on the Chinese WWII film The Chinese Widow, starring Emile Hirsch and Yifei Liu.