Mandarin Vision: Buyers Looking to Taiwan for Quality Cinema in Virus Hit Times

Patrick Frater
·3-min read

Taiwan’s Mandarin Vision has been involved in film development, production and distribution since 2012, with the ambition of creating a solid platform for Mandarin-language directors, producers and investors.

Its international sales operation, launched in 2016, has become a go-to destination for good quality, independent film, with recent titles including “A Sun,” “Detention,” “The Great Buddha+” and “My Missing Valentine,” which is a contender at the Golden Horse Film Festival.

Taiwan’s response to the coronavirus has been so successful that the island’s cinemas have been able to stay open throughout, and production has continued.

Desmond Yang, Mandarin Vision’s director of international sales, explains the nuances of running a busy sales operation at a time when the business is supposed to be struggling.

What’s it like running a sales company these days?
We have had new opportunities for sales, notably in Korea and Japan. Because so much production has been shut down (outside Taiwan) due to COVID19 this year, distributors are looking at other pictures, slightly older content from 2018-19, which we would not normally headline our slate.

How useful are you finding virtual film markets?
We participated in Cannes and Hong Kong Filmart. But not Busan or Tokyo. And we won’t be going to ATF. But we have learned that we can do online calls, Facetime, whatever at any time without having to gear up for a particular event. We can be more flexible with our clients. And we have found the time differences with some of the far away markets such as AFM can be a real problem.

Are virtual festivals any better?
With in-person festivals you know that you’ve got one or two screenings, and theaters of perhaps 500 seats. So with virtual festivals, on top of ensuring geo-blocking, you also need to set a similar limit on the number of tickets they can sell.

We have not done virtual festival screenings for our newest titles – it is a matter of prestige or premier status. For them we would wait for a physical release first. So we have screened “Silent Forest” in this way. Similarly, “My Missing Valentine” also had a real world screening in the Open Cinema section of the Busan festival last month.

Are you going to be doing the Oscar campaign for your film “A Sun”?
That’s a Netflix decision. They have the world outside China.

How is Taiwan filmmaking holding up?
It is doing pretty well. It was not directly affected by COVID-19, cinemas stayed open and production continued. There have not been many Hollywood studio movies released. But the quality of Taiwan movies has been very good and audiences have responded. That in turn helps the industry move forward.

For instance, we will be doing a series, adapted from ‘The 9th Precinct’ film, to be made here, in Chinese.

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