Acclaimed “Raise the Red Lantern” director Zhang Yimou says Asian filmmakers have made great strides but they must broaden their reach for Western audiences.
“Definitely, Asian films are gaining a higher status and making a bigger impact on the world,” the Chinese director told reporters at the Asian Film Awards held in Hong Kong Monday night.
“But Asian filmmakers still have a lot of work to do before they can truly turn their movies into a medium through which ordinary people in other parts of the world can acquire a good understanding of Asian culture.”
Zhang, who directed the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics and whose films have catapulted Chinese actresses Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi into international stardom, received the award for outstanding contribution to Asian cinema.
The 58-year-old said his hopes were pinned on a new generation of Asian directors.
“The younger generations will do better (than us). This is a liberal era and an era of diversity… They have the Internet. Their horizon and knowledge are well ahead of their previous generations.”
China and South Korea blitzed the Asian Film Awards by taking home the best picture, best actor, and best actress titles.
“Mother”, a South Korean mystery thriller about a woman’s quest to exonerate her mentally incapacitated son by taking it upon herself to investigate the murder of a teenage girl, grabbed the best film award.
Producer Moon Yang-Kwon said despite the rising status of South Korean filmmakers, it was still difficult to make money out of quality movies.
“Films that do well at box office are often not the best of our works. We must find a way to make art movies that are also blockbusters,” he said.
Kim Hye-Ja, who played the mother in the South Korean drama, beat China’s Li Bingbing and Japan’s Matsu Takako to the best actress award.
Chinese director Lu Chuan won the best director award for his feature film “City of Life and Death”, which tackles the Nanjing Massacre in 1937, when hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians were killed by Japanese soldiers.
China’s Wang Xueqi won the best actor award for his starring role in “Bodyguards and Assassins” as a businessman who provided financial aid for the revolutionary movement led by Sun Yat-sen in the early 20th century.
Hong Kong singer-cum-actor Nicholas Tse was crowned best supporting actor for his part in “Bodyguards and Assassins”. Tse starred as a rickshaw puller who sacrificed himself to protect Sun Yat-sen from assassins.
Best supporting actress went to Hong Kong television veteran Wai Ying-hung, for playing an emotionally disturbed single mother in “At the End of Daybreak”.
The prize for top-grossing film director for 2009 went to action supremo John Woo for “Red Cliff”, which is reportedly the highest-grossing Chinese-language film in cinema history.
Woo, originally from Hong Kong, is best known for directing Hollywood blockbusters such as “Mission: Impossible II”.
Veteran Indian film producer and actor Amitabh Bachchan, dubbed the “Godfather of Bollywood”, was given the lifetime achievement award.
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