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Oscar honor brings joy to Chinese
By Raymond Zhou (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-07 05:52

Ang Lee is the pride of Chinese people all over the world, and he is the glory of Chinese cinematic talent. 

That is the refrain reverberating among many cinephiles and professional filmmakers in China after news that the director of "Brokeback Mountain" won the Best Director Award at the 78th Academy Awards.

Best director winner Ang Lee poses with his Oscar at the 78th annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, March 5, 2006. Lee won for his work in "Brokeback Mountain." [Reuters]

Lee is the first Chinese to receive the honour, considered the highest in American cinema and the most influential worldwide.

"I'm deeply proud of him," gushed Kate Wang, granddaughter of Wang Dulu, whose martial arts novel inspired Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" in 2000.

Kate Wang, a public relations executive at the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, said she considered Lee a family friend and that his win is one more testament to his colossal talent at exploring the subtleties of human feelings.

"Ang Lee's movie is very touching. It's simple but perfect," commented Zhang Yuan, a Chinese film director of the "Sixth Generation." "I sincerely congratulate him. He is the pride of all Chinese directors everywhere."

Despite the Best Director nod, the film "Brokeback Mountain" lost to "Crash" in the Best Picture category. It was widely seen as an upset because "Brokeback" had been winning all kinds of trophies, from the Golden Bear in Venice, to the Golden Globe and the Independent Spirit Awards, and was seen by most observers as a shoo-in for the highest Oscar.

"It's not surprising that 'Crash' won the biggest prize. America is a multiracial society and a film that reflects that facet will naturally assume special importance," said Zhang, director of "Beijing Bastard" and "East Palace, West Palace."

Xu Jinglei, an actress-turned-director, said China needs more "masters with his depth and breath."

Online reaction showed that a few were dismayed that "Crash" nabbed best picture; and the gay community was especially upset, said Cheng Qingsong, a gay film critic and scriptwriter.

An anonymous posting on Sina.com summed up what many moviegoers expressed in one way or another: "Now that Ang Lee has got all the big international accolades, Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige need not compete for the title of No 1 Chinese Director any more."

Other voices were less congratulatory. Dayyan Eng, a Chinese American who started his filmmaking career in Beijing, did not think "Brokeback" is as good as "The Ice Storm," an Ang Lee film from 1997.

Liu Miaomiao, a director of independent films, rationalized that Hollywood would not give the top award to "Brokeback" because of political reasons.

Sai Ren, a film critic with CCTV6, a film channel, noted that Lee's achievement had little to do with Chinese cinema. He suggested that people watch the show just to enjoy it.

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