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Film and TV Shoots Start to Resume in China, Including on Zhang Yimou’s New Spy Drama

The news comes as restrictions in China start to ease up.

Zhang Yimou poses for photographers at the premiere of the film 'Shadow' at the 75th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, ItalyFilm Festival 2018 Shadow Red Carpet, Venice, Italy - 06 Sep 2018

Zhang Yimou

Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

As coronavirus restrictions begin to ease up in China, film and TV production is reportedly starting up again, albeit under strict health guidelines. According to China Global Television Network, some crews have started to resume work following weeks on hiatus due to the outbreak.

Back in February, Xiangshan Film and Television Town in Ningbo, in the Zhejiang Province of eastern China, was among the first to reopen, with four crews going back to work and at least 50 readying to go back. The administrator of Xiangshan, however, mandated epidemic emergency precautions to be taken on set, limiting the number of gatherings of crew members to 50. Crew members were also asked to take an exam on epidemic prevention consisting of 25 questions, and all with a perfect score.

The news comes as China starts to recover its economy and ease up quarantine protocols, though movie theaters — which briefly reopened this month before shuttering again — remain closed due to concerns over a possible second wave of infection.

On March 28, Hengdian World Studios, which is one of China’s biggest production hub, reopened five shooting bases and brought more than 20 crews back to work. Films have also resumed shooting, including “Hero,” “House of Flying Daggers,” and “Red Sorghum” director Zhang Yimou’s upcoming film “Impasse,”  starring Zhang Yi and Zhu Yawen. Production was taking place in Datong, northern China’s Shanxi Province, after shutting down operations for more than 50 days.

Also resuming filming, in the Hada Bay Old Industrial Zone in northeastern China’s Jilin Province, is director Zhang Ji’s “Moses in the Plain,” produced by “Black Coal, Thin Ice” Berlinale Golden Bear winner Diao Yinan, whose most recently film was sleek Chinese noir and 2019 Cannes selection “The Wild Goose Lake.”

Local governments in China have offered subsidies to the struggling film industry. The government of Dongyang City, in Zhejiang Province, offered 10 million yuan (equivalent to about $1.4 million) to cover overhead costs at Hengdian World Studios and provide for the crews. Hengdian also exempted its rental fees, discounted its hotel accommodation, and gave those quarantine in Hengdian 500 yuan per person. Xiangshan also took similar measures to provide for crew members by cutting accommodation and rental fees, and for equipment.

These developments come as production remains halted indefinitely in the United States, with studios anticipating going back to work in the summer, while continuing to shift release dates for their finished tentpoles.

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