BRADFORD'S City of Film team is to open an office in China, to develop co-production projects between UK and Chinese film-makers.

Bradford City of Film director David Wilson said the move has potential investment opportunities for the district, not just in film but for other businesses too.

The new film office, in Qingdao, a coastal city in the southeast of Shandong Province which has the largest film production studio complex in China.

In a reciprocal arrangement Qingdao - which finds out in October if its bid to be a UNESCO City of Film is successful - will open a UK China Film Bureau in Bradford in coming months. As a result of the growing relationship between the two cities, Qingdao University of Science and Technology and the University of Bradford are developing a number of collaborations in science and technology as well as film and TV production.

The Bradford office, at Qingdao's film museum, will be launched as part of the Qingdao Film Trade and Domestic Film Promotion Festival, from September 18-22.

Mr Wilson will attend the event, set to attract 500 delegates including Chinese government officials and representatives of its State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. International industry experts attending include heads of cinema chains, major distribution companies, film production companies, actors, directors, screenwriters and production teams.

Mr Wilson said: “We've been working with Qingdao for some time now, I was fortunate to visit the city earlier this year and see firsthand the scale of ambition for film. I'm delighted to be invited to the conference to communicate with high-ranking members of the Chinese film industry and give an opening speech for the Qingdao Film Museum.

“The establishment of a Bradford Film Office in Qingdao will enable the UK to have a portal to promote British co-production opportunities, and wider business opportunities particularly in Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and the North of England."

He added: "There are potentially a lot of investment opportunities here; the key is co-production and there's a lot of business potential in making links with China. For us to have an office there, with full Bradford City of Film branding, and be acting in an advisory position, is fantastic. This is the start of a long and fruitful journey.”

The festival will feature a series of talks about Chinese and international films. Issues up for debate will include how to develop Chinese film, how to set up a new industrial standard for Chinese film, and how to achieve film industrialisation.

Roger Marsh, chairman of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership said: “I’m delighted Bradford is leading the way by brokering strategic relationships in the screen industry and wider business community in the beautiful coastal city of film, Qingdao.

“I’ve seen firsthand the massive potential for Leeds City Region businesses in China. It’s fantastic to see Bradford seizing the initiative and creating opportunities in this huge market.

“This international presence further showcases the strengths of the screen industries in the City Region, highlighting the talent, locations and ambition which is garnering national and international attention.”

A co-production treaty signed by the UK and China in 2014 allows benefits for eligible productions, including sources of finance and an easier passage to audiences. In the UK this includes the Film Tax Relief and the BFI Film Fund, the UK’s largest public film fund.

In addition, eligible co-productions will not be subject to China’s quota on foreign films, which only permits a limited number of non-domestic titles to be shown in Chinese cinemas each year.

The “time is right” to promote Bradford’s links to the film industry in China, according to the Bradford Chamber of Commerce.

President Nick Garthwaite said: “We agree that the time is right to raise the profile of Bradford’s UNESCO City of Film designation in China. 

“There is significant investment happening right now in the Chinese film industry, with the investor and the country generally having big ambitions for the sector. 

“Bradford is already attracting several film-makers and production companies to the District and the Chamber, as part of the City of Film Board, backs closer working with the other eight UNESCO Cities of Film around the world, which could become nine later this year with the addition of Qingdao.”

And Councillor Sarah Ferriby, portfolio holder for culture at Bradford Council, said the partnership could also boost tourism in the district, with many locations already proving a popular destination for Chinese visitors.

She said: “We have got beautiful, scenic backdrops out in the countryside, like Bronte country and Ilkley Moor, and we obviously have the architectural heritage of the buildings in Bradford and across the district.

“We get visitors from across the world, but particularly from China and America, who have seen the films, seen the documentaries and the many television programmes and they’d like to come and actually, physically see the backdrop.”