[PROFILE] Zhang Yimou - 1st Chinese Director Receiving Motions Pictures Academy
- China's storyteller
Director of the month: Zhang Yimou
1st Chinese Director to Receive Recognitin from the Motions Pictures
STORIES about China are brilliantly portrayed in Zhang Yimou's
movies, recognised with numerous awards at film festivals worldwide.
Even as he is an accomplished actor -- having starred in Red Sorghum
and earned the best actor award at the Tokyo International Film
Festival for his performance in Old Well (1986) -- Zhang is more
renowned as one of cinema's most talented and influential directors.
His directorial debut, Red Sorghum (1987), won him the Golden Bear
Award at the Berlin Film Festival.
This winning streak continued at the Venice International Film
Festival, which honoured his works Raise The Red Lantern (1991), The
Story Of Qiu Ju (1992) and Not One Less (1999). At the 47th Cannes
International Film Festival, To Live (1994) won him the Grand Jury
Zhang is also the first Chinese filmmaker to receive recognition
from the Motion Picture Academy, getting Oscar nominations in the
Best Foreign Film category for Ju Dou in 1990 and Raise The Red
Lantern in 1991.
Having directed 11 films may make him a seasoned director. But his
latest film, the critically-acclaimed Hero, is his first martial
Treading on unfamiliar grounds, Zhang describes the challenges in
filming a wuxia (martial arts) movie. For example, the exciting,
detailed description of a sword's strength and speed cannot be
easily depicted on the screen like how a wuxia novel could because
it is constrained by time.
Nevertheless, Zhang, who has been fed on wuxia novels since
childhood, had always hoped to make a martial arts film, but
rejected the idea of adapting from available literature because, in
his words, '... the plot always hinges on revenge. For years, this
has been the only theme in Chinese martial arts films, whether it's
Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan'.
Three years were spent to develop the story of Hero, which is 'not
only a martial arts film, but also a legend of what happened in
Hoping to steer away from the cliche of martial arts films, Zhang
elaborates: 'In my story, the goal is to downplay violence... For
real martial arts heroes, the heart is far more important than the
Hero, which costs US$31 million (S$54 million) to produce, has been
submitted for entry for a Best Foreign Language movie Oscar.