Award category shines spotlight on Chinese talent

By Xu Fan(China Daily)
Updated: 2017-02-16 07:19:27

Xu Haofeng (center) won the best director award of Asian Brilliant Stars for the martial-arts film The Master. [Photo provided to China Daily]

It may be a bit early to predict the winners of this year's Berlinale International Film Festival, but a newly launched event has drawn European attention to top Chinese talent.

Asian Brilliant Stars-an award category for Asian movies, the first in the festival's history of more than 60 years-announced the three winners in the German capital on Sunday.

Liu Zhenyun, one of China's most acclaimed writers, took the best scriptwriter award for his art-house drama Someone to Talk To, based on his bestselling novel of the same title.

Ye Ning, vice-president of Huayi Brothers Media Corp, claimed the best producer honor for the firm's unlikely romance The Wasted Times.

And author-turned director Xu Haofeng won the best director award for The Master, a 1930s tale tracing the roots of Chinese kung fu in northern China.

The three winners to some extent represent the Chinese bid to do art-house films despite the pressures of the box office.

Richard Shen, secretary-general of Asian Film and Television Promotion, says the awards aim to showcase top Chinese film talent to the West.

The event is a joint initiative of Asian Film and Television Promotion, China Radio and Television Association and the Beijing Film Academy.

Speaking about the award, Shen says: "Europeans want to know more about China and its film industry ... The awards can act as a bridge to connect the West and the East."

Shen also says the event, which obtained approval in November, was inspired by European Shooting Stars, a project to pick the continent's best young actors at the Berlin festival.

"The (Shooting Stars) event has been on for 18 years. Every year, it helps 10 acting talents," he says.

Renate Rose, director of the European Film Promotion, says Shooting Stars has cultivated a great number of actors, "helping them establish brilliant film careers and achieve worldwide stardom".

He points to Alicia Vikander, winner of the 88th Academy Awards' Best Supporting Actress prize, and Cosmina Stratan, winner of Best Actress at the 65th Cannes International Film Festival.

"European Film Promotion and European Shooting Stars also want to deepen communication and cooperation with the Asian film market," says Rose.

Separately, Shen says the Asian Brilliant Stars will team up with other Asian countries, such as Japan, South Korea, India and Singapore, in the coming years.

As Shen sees it, Asian films have yet to earn a mainstream seat on the global scene. The first step for Asian filmmakers is to let Western audiences understand and like their stories.

He says most Chinese directors are still struggling to find a balance between commerce and art, which often stops talented art-house filmmakers from making quality films.

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