By Marzia De Giuli
VENICE, Italy, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- A brilliant future is expected to come into China's cinema market from the internet, the president of China's online video giant iQiyi Motion Pictures, Li Yansong, said on Wednesday at the Venice film festival in Italy.
iQiyi, owned by Chinese search engine Baidu, is the main sponsor of this year's Venice Film Market, a business platform dedicated to cinema professionals attending the Venice film festival.
Li was in the panel of experts who discussed the global development of Chinese cinema at the first forum dedicated to the Asian country held on the sidelines of the festival. The China Film Forum was supported by Xinhua International.
In a country with fast-developing technology and fast-growing cinema market, the use of internet has already become a well established trend with huge opportunities expected over the coming few years, Li highlighted in an interview with Xinhua.
Based on this market's potential, iQiyi has started enlarging its Chinese and international offer with fee, Li said. China presently counts some 500 million online video viewers, which are expected to rise to 700 million in 2016. At the same time, the Chinese online video industry is estimated to increase from 2.7 billion to 4.2 billion U.S. dollars in revenue.
The president explained to Xinhua that the Chinese quota system limiting the foreign film distribution in China applies to theatrical releases but not to online distribution. This allows iQiyi to bring more international films to Chinese audiences in full compliance with the law, he said.
Film festivals, and especially the ones with notable tradition such as Venice, are a big occasion to discover and bring into China new art house works, Li said.
He noted brand new art house works that are frequently presented at film festivals can please another important though smaller slice of the market, besides the so-called commercial films. "There are many different audiences, and our objective is to satisfy all of them," he said.
The president recalled iQiyi successfully launched an online screening initiative at the Shanghai Film Festival in June, where the platform streamed a variety of titles including the festival's winner, the Greek film Little England.
iQiyi was in talks on collaborations with international festivals for similar initiatives and longterm projects, Li said. Meanwhile, it was planning to buy rights to distribute American and European films in other countries than China in the next few years, he added.
Li said China is the second-largest film market by box office receipts after the United States. China's film market, he pointed out, is continuously expanding not only in box office figures, but also in terms of cinema screens and film production.
He also underlined that China's works have grown in quality in recent times. "But in order to attract the world audiences, they need to find a universal angle to tell stories," he told Xinhua.
For example, Li noted, the reason why Qin'ai de (Dearest) - a film by Hong-Kong movie director Peter Ho-Sun Chan presented in the Venice festival's out of competition selection - was very much appreciated lies in the universality of its drama, child abduction, which happens in China as in other parts of the world.
"I was moved exactly in the same way foreign viewers were moved, it was a story for everyone," Li stressed.