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Zhang Yimou: Mumbai Award Another New Starting Point

2012-10-22 17:27:01        xinhua

Zhang Yimou. [File Photo]

Winning Lifetime Achievement Award of Mumbai Film Festival is not destination but just another new starting point, said Chinese famous film director Zhang Yimou in an interview with Xinhua on Friday.

The 14th Mumbai Film Festival, organized by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI), kicked off in Bollywood base Mumbai City on Thursday.

During the opening ceremony, Chinese director Zhang Yimou who directed the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics and Red Sorghum, new Nobel Laureate Mo Yan's novel, was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The lifetime achievement award was presented during the 100th anniversary of Indian cinema this year, escalates the significance India places on Chinese cinema.

When asked how he view this honor and how to understand the meaning of "lifetime achievement award", since he is the first Asian director to receive the award of this category, Zhang Yimou said, there is an old Chinese saying "It's never too late to learn ", so it is the same with the film industry. Shooting a movie in fact is also a process to learn and accumulate.

"It's not a destination for me but just another new starting point. I'll keep improving my knowledge, learning more skills, shooting better films; that's my life-long pursuit," Zhang said.

When it comes to Academy Award, or Oscar, Zhang said a director should be purer and simpler in creative job on film, just thinking of how to make a good film.

"Winning awards just come and go, and you should not just aim for them when you shoot a movie, for which you are bound to lose."

Zhang also talked about the cooperation with Mo Yan, the new Nobel literature laureate from China and also his old friend. Zhang said, he noticed that Mo Yan has been calm and peaceful when replying to journalists in an interview. He added he really appreciate the expression and words Mo delivered, and it is well worth learning.

In Zhang's opinion, behind Mo Yan's success in Nobel Prize is the embodiment of improvements in China's overall strength. "It is just because China's national and peoples' image continuously improve that Chinese writers are approaching closer to the Nobel Literature Prize."

In Zhang's eyes, Mo Yan is a hard-working guy, as he never stops writing over the years and managed to sample different writing styles. Zhang agreed with Mo Yan's comment that writers stand out only by their works.

"For me, a director make his unique by his films or his works." Zhang said in a firm tone.

In Zhang's early films like "Raise the Red Lantern" and "Red Sorghum", he told stories in a narrative style. From his first kung fu film "Hero" in 2002, Zhang changed his style and switched to so-called commercial film.

He explained to Xinhua that "You can say Hero is a turning point for my works in terms of film types and style. Basically I think it is also a reflection for change of times, or other, my works has been changing with the Chinese film environment."

In Zhang's opinion, after Hero, China has gradually stepped into a commercialized or entertainment culture dominant period. As youth born after 1980s becoming major consumption force in cinemas, Hollywood movies began to flood in China, a opener film market after China's entering into WTO in 2001.

Zhang pointed out that China even today has been facing the conflicts between commercial and artistic films. Moreover, the conflicts always exist in the film market and also in the creations of the directors.

"So far as I'm concerned, the most important factor for a film is still culture and humanity. Until now my favorite film type is artistic film with cultural value, and my focus in the future will be in that dimension."

"I, however, still feel that it is not bad to shoot some commercial films, because different audience has different tastes. For a director who has always made artistic films, it is also a kind of learning process. I should learn to know the skills and methods of making commercial films and to know the needs of the audience."

Referring to how can Chinese films go overseas, Zhang said it is a big question, but he can give some advice. He argued that Chinese filmmakers still need "sailing a boat by water", which means we could start with the type with which all over the world is popular, namely, kung fu typed films, and then we can gradually expand to other film categories.

Zhang said, as we all know, international impression of Chinese films was originated from kung fu films. China's film stars like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li successfully combine kung fu with Chinese traditional culture and value, so they have made a big hit in the world.

"However, the mainstream film market is still dominated by Hollywood films, and share of Chinese films in this market is so tiny."

"Thus, we should use the way westerners like to narrate story and foster our foreign audience, making them gradually interested in Chinese films, then further in Chinese culture and history. Only by doing this can we open up foreign film market. It must be a long and tortuous process," Zhang added.

Born in 1950, Zhang Yimou is one of the most famous Chinese film directors in the world. Amongst his most renowned works are House of Flying Daggers (2004), Hero (2002), Curse of The Golden Flower (2006), and Raise the Red Lantern (1991). His most recent film is the Flowers of War (2011), which unfolds in December 1937, in the early months of the Second Sino-Japanese War, a crucial chapter in Chinese history that Zhang explored in his first film, 1987's "Red Sorghum".

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