Chinese speakers and their Russian colleagues discussed the various ways for integration of the People’s Republic of China into different spheres of cultural life of the Russian Federation, the future of joint projects in cinema and education, as well as programs to introduce our peoples to each other's art and theatre projects.
The official delegation of the People's Republic of China at the Forum was headed by Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism of the PRC Zhang Xu, with invited experts — Rector of the Beijing Dance Academy Go Lei, Vice Chairman of the Chinese Acrobatic Association Fu Jien, principal actor of the Beijing People's Art Theatre Wan Bang and Director of the Museum of Fine Arts Woo Weishan.
The key events of the Professional Flow of the program "The People’s Republic of China as the Guest Country" included the panel discussion "Prospects of Russian-Chinese Cooperation in Cinema" and a roundtable discussion "Linguistic and Cultural Space of "One Belt, One Way": Challenges and Opportunities for Universities. Both events were focused on cooperation and cultural exchange between Russia and the People’s Republic of China, achieved success in the sphere of cinema and education, and problems which professionals encounter and ways of solving these problems.
The panel discussion "Perspectives of Russian-Chinese Cooperation in Cinema" took place on November 14 in the General Staff Building of the Hermitage. The speakers at the event included Russian and Chinese producers and film figures: producer of China International Film and Media Company Liu Xuan, producer Shan Tam, producer of Airmita Company and Russian film distributor in China Du Liang, as well as production designer Arthur Mirzoyan, general producer of Ricky Company and co-author of KikOniki cartoon series Ilya Popov and owner of Algous Studio of Special Computer Effects Alexey Gusev.
During the panel discussion the specialists talked about the factors of attractiveness of the Chinese market for foreign entrepreneurs: the Chinese film industry has made an incredible leap forward over several decades, coming in second place in the world in box office receipts and in first place in the world in the number of screens. Additionally, Liu Xuan talked in much detail about the process of receiving co-production permits in the People’s Republic of China, named the most popular films in the People’s Republic of China, and analyzed the factors that attract Chinese viewers in different films.
The participants presented various Chinese-Russian projects that had either gained success or are scheduled to appear on the screen fairly soon. Du Liangintroduced the marketing concept for promotion of the film "Going Vertical" and explained the problems with promoting sport-themed drama films not only in China but worldwide; Shan Tam talked about the "Lost in Russia" project, which will be presented in January 2020, and Ilya Popov used the example of KikOniki to explain the model of presenting Russian projects in China, as well as adapting animated series to fit the preferences of Chinese audiences.
The discussion was completed by Alexey Gusev, who described in detail the differences in oral and written communication and approaches to work between the People’s Republic of China and Russia, and also expressed his thankfulness to, and admiration of, his Chinese colleagues: "Respect and trust can help solve every problem. My Chinese colleagues have been very respectful: they believed every word I said and I was confident that we would never find ourselves in a blind valley, that we will be able to find an agreement even in very difficult circumstances."
The roundtable discussion “Linguistic and Cultural Space of The Belt and Road: Challenges and Opportunities for Universities" took place on November 14 as well. Speakers at the event included representatives of different universities, as well as experts in joint projects between China and Russia in the field of education, including Liu Li, Rector of Beijing University of Language and Culture, Liu Hong, Deputy Director of the Language Policy Department at the Ministry of Education of China, Taras Ivchenko, Director of the Confucius Institute at the Russian State University for the Humanities, as well as professors of Chinese and Russian universities.
The main topics of the roundtable discussion included internationalization of education, development of international educational projects in the context of "The Belt and Road" initiative. Alexey Rodionov, first Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Eastern Studies of Saint Petersburg State University opened the discussion with some statistics showing increased cooperation and stronger ties between Russia and China: "Over the past 20 years the number of Russian students studying in the People’s Republic of China increased by more than 30 times. [...] Chinese universities are stepping up their study programs of Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus. A total of 153 universities in China offer majors in the Russian language.”
Liu Li, Rector of the Beijing Institute of Language and Culture discussed the importance of training professionals who could foster learning of the Chinese language abroad, as well as described the necessary education structure for successful development of Chinese language teachers, from elementary schools to universities. He also described the shortcomings of the system as it exists today: "We must offer a practical approach to training of international students. We do not have that developed enough yet. Perhaps we need more staff, more teachers in ["The Belt and Road"] program, perhaps they are not up to the mark."
Overall, the importance of the initiative "The Belt and Road" for joint educational projects of participating countries could not be underestimated: "All the processes that we see today enable internationalization of education, form a new space for the dialogue of cultures, where the voice of Asia gets stronger and stronger. Culture, history and interests of member countries of "The Belt and Road" define development trends of universities increasingly more often," Alexey Rodionov said.
Additionally, on November 15 the General Staff Building of the Hermitage hosted a panel discussion entitled "The Concept of "Ecological Civilization" as Architectonics of Future Culture." The ambitious Chinese project of the "ecological civilization" was discussed by speakers representing various fields of culture, art and education, including Chen Xiangjin, member of the Board of Directors, chief architect of the Guangzhou Newsdays Design Architectural and Design Association (PRC), Di Yajing, Deputy Director of the Department of Ancient Architecture at Gugong Museum and Susan Jane, director of the Confucius Institute, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). The key topic of the discussion was the formation of the ecological civilization in the context of the present-day society: in what way cultural, economic, legal and corporate aspects of the civilization are incorporated in the understanding of the ecological future, as well as the role and priorities of China in implementing this concept.
Yet another key event of the program was the opening of the exhibition "Study and Restoration of Chinese Artwork in the Hermitage" and presentation of the project "Hermitage-China." The exhibition was opened by Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the Hermitage Museum, who spoke about the importance of restoring cultural heritage objects and works of art and said that the exhibition project succeeded due to joint efforts of Russian and Chinese restorers.
The "Hermitage-China" project was introduced by representatives of the PRC as well, among them Hong Inli, Deputy Chairman of the Beijing Foundation of the Hermitage. The project has been developing for several years and included the opening of the Hermitage branch in Beijing, virtual offices of the Hermitage, publication of printed materials about the Hermitage in China, and social projects dedicated to developing the creative potential of China.
The two key events of the Festival program were a concert of the Shanghai National Orchestra and the Andreev State Academic Orchestra, which took place on November 13 in the State Academic Capella, and the performance of “Prince of Lanling” by the Chinese State Drama Theatre, which was presented at Youth Theatre on November 15.
The Shanghai National Orchestra is a world renowned collective, stars of the music stage of the People’s Republic of China today. The orchestra is comprised of traditional national instruments such as erhu, banhu, pipa, zhuan, ditzy, suona, and others. During the Forum, the Chinese orchestra, together with the Andreev State Academic Orchestra, performed a large folk symphony "Ode to Peace," a new flagship show of the Shanghai National Orchestra, written by the famous Chinese composer Zhao Jiping. Cooperation between the two orchestras started at the stage of preparation: Chinese and Russian musicians worked together on the score, compilation and development of every detail. Joint rehearsals of the two orchestras took place over three days before the concert.
The show entitled "Prince of Lan Ling" combines the techniques of traditional Chinese theatre, such as Nuo opera, ritual dances, martial arts elements and step. The play is based on the legend of the great general of the era of the Northern dynasty of Xi. Having witnessed the murder of his father, the protagonist pretended to be a weak effeminate prince, hiding his real self. He hid his face behind the masks of mythical creatures that gave him miraculous power, defeated his enemies, but eventually fell into extreme cruelty. The Prince's mother sacrificed her life to save her son and help him return to his true self. The production hides a symbolic meaning, reveals an allegory about "the soul and the mask" and demonstrates the contemplation of a tragic fate. The performance makes the theatre goer think about the true nature of human ego and the things hidden under the masks.