World audiences keen on Chinese stories

Rachel Lu
A forum at the 25th Shanghai TV Festival hears how series reflecting the lives of ordinary people in China are becoming increasingly popular in other countries.
Rachel Lu

Contemporary Chinese TV series about the lives of ordinary people are gaining popularity and influence overseas, according to a forum at the 25th Shanghai TV Festival.

“Drama Without Borders: Chinese Narratives for a Global Audience” demonstrated the huge potential and bright prospects for Chinese TV series overseas. 

A growing number of film and TV companies are seeking international cooperation to tell Chinese stories to the world. 

Tang Shiding, vice president of China International Television Corp, said they have launched Chinese channels and China hours in many countries to cater for local audiences’ demand for Chinese TV. Recent urban dramas, including “Ode To Joy” and “Life Revelation,” have received acclaim from foreign viewers. 

International coproductions about Chinese culture, history and modern times are also on the increase.

Jonathan Spink, CEO of HBO Asia, said China has a lot of wonderful stories which could be produced for a global audience if well translated.

Domestic TV dramas are developing multiple language versions instead of simply broadcasting with subtitles. 

Additionally, 5G and 4K technologies are expected to be widely used in production and distribution.

Also on Thursday, the TV festival hosted a TV drama masterclass to give new Chinese TV artists and producers the opportunity to learn from experts in the field.

Scriptwriter Zhao Dongling, who wrote “Red Sorghum” and “In Law We Believe,” spoke about the often lonely process of scriptwriting. She stressed passion and determination throughout her career, noting the many failures she encountered as milestones.

“Even at the age of 60, I still hold a daring heart as I venture past my comfort zone,” said Zhao.

Director Fu Dongyu, most recently known for “The Thunder,” said TV drama must be an extension of real life, and his work always began with personal observations and experiences. Fu was adamant that TV drama should stay true to its decided categories, because the audience can easily lose interest when their expectations were not met.

Actor Wang Jinsong, famous for his performances in “The Advisors Alliance” and “The Thunder,” spoke fondly of his past 32 years as an actor, which were not always as glorious as he now appears. 

As an acting student in Nanjing, Wang endured many arduous years. He slept in a resource room, where he read ferociously. Throughout his career, Wang noticed that the books he read subconsciously benefited him and taught him the work ethic necessary to prepare for every scene.

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