Thursday, October 15, 2009

Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival

A Golden Rooster trophy. (CFP Photo)

The 18th China Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival (Jinji Baihua) opened last night with a star-studded gala event attended by some of China's most well-known actors and filmmakers. This year's festival is expected to be grander than ever before, hoping to gain ground on dwindling industry and audience appeal.

The festival is being held in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province and as it is the 60th anniversary of both the People's Republic of China and the China Film Association, which founded the Golden Rooster Film Awards in 1981, this year's four-day festival is expected to be the best yet.

Regarded as China's first and most official film festival, the Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival combines two major film awards but has been losing support in recent years. According to a survey by China Youth Daily about last year's Hundred Flowers Awards, decided by popular vote, 97.4 percent of those surveyed had not voted at all, while 77 percent were not interested and 68.3 percent thought that nowadays the awards did not accurately represent the audience.

The Golden Rooster Awards are decided by experts and are often criticized for their neglect of the box office and audience feedback. To rectify the situation and restore the festival's past glory, this week's event includes many of the blockbusters from early this year and 2008, including The Assembly, Forever Enthralled and Painted Skin. International stars Jackie Chan (Police Story), Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs) and Zhou Xun (The Equation of Love and Death) are expected to increase the festival's profile and draw attention to a comprehensive lineup of events.

Considered China's most successful commercial director, Feng Xiaogang (If You Are the One) has benefitted from this year's sway toward blockbusters. Feng's Cell Phone was turned down by the organizing committee in 2003 as "pulp" and he has never been nominated for a Golden Roster. This year Feng and The Assembly have garnered nine nominations including Best Feature, Best Director and Best Leading Actor.

Busy with his latest work The Tangshan Earthquake, Feng expressed his gratitude by confirming his participation in the festival, even though he will probably not be able to attend until the last day. "We have to support the film festival of our own country," he said.

Director Chen Kaige and his Forever Enthralled will be Feng's largest obstacle on his potential path to glory, as Chen's film has earned eight nominations.

In the category of Best Leading Actor, Zhang Hanyu is vying for his sixth award with his role in The Assembly. He has been nominated alongside Wu Gang in Iron Man and Fan Wei in Lucky Dog.

The competition for Best Leading Actress is even more fierce, with four of China's best actresses nominated: Zhang Ziyi for her role in Forever Enthralled, Zhou Xun for The Equation of Love and Death, Zhao Wei for Painted Skin and Jiang Wenli for And the Spring Comes. Aside from the glamorous opening, awards and closing ceremonies, this year's Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival also includes various themed events and film promotions. The international film exhibition will present the latest films from the US, Japan, South Korea and Poland including Cassandra's Dream and The Stranger.

The Hong Kong and Taiwan film exhibition will focus on Taiwanese nostalgic films by renowned directors such as Hsing Lee (The Wheel of Life) and Hsiao-hsien Hou (Three Times), as well as classic works by kung fu star Jackie Chan including Snake in the Eagle's Shadow and Project A.

Two themed sections will also make their premiere at this year's festival. A group of New Year celebration films (films to be released around the New Year) including Zhang Yimou's Amazing Tales: Three Guns and Peter Chan's Waiting, will hold promotional events and press conferences as part of the event. This section is by far the most anticipated by much of the Chinese media.

Another new section will take mainstream films to educational campuses in Nanchang. Works including Nanchang Uprising and The Founding of a Republic will be shown during the screenings, with filmmakers meeting with college students afterwards.

The awards and closing ceremonies will be held on Saturday night, with a production team drawn from the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games and CCTV's Spring Festival gala. "We will try to deliver a film festival ceremony with Nanchang characteristics," explained chief director Cheng Qingsong.

Chinese film awards

The Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival is a traditional festival for Chinese filmmakers, organized by the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles and China Film Association. The annual festival is held in one of Chinas large or medium-sized cities each year and usually lasts for five days.

The film festival originates from the Hundred Flowers Awards that were initiated in 1962 by Popular Cinema, Chinas most distributed film magazine and the Golden Rooster Awards that began in 1981. These two awards are of the longest history and largest scale and influence in Chinas film industry. They were combined into The Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival in 1992. Since 2005, the awards are each presented every alternate year, the Golden Rooster Awards in odd-numbered years and the Hundred Flowers Award in even-numbered years.

The Golden Rooster Awards focus on expertise while the Hundred Flowers Awards are decided by popular vote.

In 1962, 117,000 votes were received for the Hundred Flower Awards, the number increased to 180,000 in the following year.

No awards were presented between 1964 and 1979, but when the third Hundred Flowers Awards were held in 1980, 700,000 votes were received. The awards are also known as the "peoples choice awards."
In comparison, the Golden Rooster Awards are the most prestige professional awards in Chinas film industry. The jury is made up of film scholars and experts and the awards are also known as the "experts awards."

Source: Global Times



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