Chinese Distributor Parallax Picks Its Film Market Battles, Focuses on Tokyo

Small but growing production firm Midnight Blur Films has had a strong fall.

Its soft sci-fi feature “Journey to the West” just won top accolades at China’s Pingyao Intl. Film Festival, including the Fei Mu prize for best film, the Cinephilia Critics’ Award, and the youth jury award.

Its rights arm Parallax International Sales is at Tokyo this year looking for buyers for a selection of strong titles including “Journey to the West,” Asian Future Competition selection “The Coffin Painter,” director Zhang Lu’s Japan-set “Yanagawa,” stylish drama about the life of a Sichuan opera actor in the 80s “A New Old Play,” and “Annular Eclipse,” a dark sci-fi second feature from writer-director Zhang Chi.

“We hope we can build more connections with Asian buyers this year and expand our network to find buyers,” said Cao Liuying, co-founder and head of international sales.

In a year when the American Film Market and TIFFCOM’s scheduling collides, her small team decided it would be too hard to split their energy between both markets. Like a growing number of Chinese firms, they have set their sights more firmly on Tokyo this year.

AFM remains important for many of her Chinese colleagues, especially those with commercial projects, but has never been their focus, Cao said.

“We had trouble finding people there. It’s very costly and for a small company like us, it’s not worth it,” she explained. “Distributing films in the U.S. is still quite important for us, but as we know very well that our films need festival exposure first, we mainly work on communicating with programmers. Those communications can be done anytime and it doesn’t have to be during the AFM.”

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