After a long, hard, busy and stimulating day at the first day of the Forum, invited guests strolled down the hill, drawn by the promise of free booze and only a few speeches to listen to. The Auckland City Council hosted a welcoming ceremony for Doc Edge, and in particular the Chinese delegation from the Guangzhou Festival (GZDOC).
Guangzhou and Auckland have had a “Sister City” relationship for 21 years now, and this was marked in terms of both broader economic relations and the screen industry.
In his introductory speech, the Group Manager of Economic Relations for the Auckland City Council, Gareth Stiven, credited the city connection with at least partial responsibility for NZ being the first country to establish a free trade agreement with China.
In her response to Auckland Mayor John Banks’s welcome, GZDOC Managing Director celebrated the film industry connection, Lei Hong, noting the appropriateness of China being the selected focus country for Doc Edge in 2010, given that the Guangzhou’s Festival had a focus last year on New Zealand. She also spoke of the Guangzhou screen industry’s strong desire to establish more and stronger relationships with NZ film companies.
After welcoming the Chinese Consul General, Madame Liao, Mayor Banks moved from describing the screen industry as a growth area in both cities to his Council’s recent initiatives in support of local screen production.
He then went on to promise that the new Auckland ‘Super-City’ would “promote the film industry aggressively”, and make it much easier for international production to come and shoot in Auckland. He concluded with high praise of the local screen world, saying, “We put you on a pedestal, and we salute your talent.”
Concluding the speeches, Film Auckland’s Michael Brook spoke of the pleasure of his two visits to Guangzhou in 2009, acknowledged the support from the Auckland City Council, and made special mention of Dan Shanan and Alex Lee as “two very passionate people”. Indeed!
During the post-speech schmoozing, one of our international guests complained (mildly), “I’ve been here for days, and nobody’s offered me a joint yet.” Some things you just can’t put in conference goodie bags.