Fan Bingbing with her Tokyo International Film Festival Best
Actress Award at a celebration party in Beijing on Thursday.
China Photo Press / for China Daily
Chinese cinema's 'beautiful vase' picks up the Best Actress Award at the Tokyo Film Festival. Liu Wei reports
Fan Bingbing has long been known for her beauty, but the actress has shown she is not just a pretty face - she has just won the Best Actress Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival, making her the youngest Chinese actress to earn the honor.
"Many years ago, people said I am just a pretty woman, a beautiful vase, I said it's OK, but I will be an elegant vase," Fan says.
"I was just pretending to be strong. Now I want to tell everybody that pretty actresses can act, too."
Fan's award-winning role in Buddha Mountain is that of a high school graduate who fails the college entrance exam and comes under huge pressure from her parents. She leaves home with two friends and rents rooms in the home of a former Peking Opera singer who is mourning her son's death. Although their lifestyles clash, the four slowly begin to build a bond.
According to Hollywood Reporter, this is a film "that could easily have been a rote, melodramatic weeper but is saved from that fate by some astute writing, strong performances and an almost utter dearth of expected devices".
This is the second time Fan is teaming up with Li Yu, a female director known for her sharp, small-budget films about women. Despite objections from Fan's own studio - which she opened in 2007 when she was 25 - who felt joining the project was not a good idea, considering their last cooperation Lost in Beijing was banned in China for its gloomy depiction of reality. But Fan insisted.
"The protagonist is a rebel," she says. "I am afraid I may not be able to play such roles later. It helps me remember my youth."
Fan could not go in person to receive her award at the festival held from Oct 23-31 as she was busy with another film. When news of the award came in, she was actually asleep after a whole night of shooting. The award came as a surprise, she says, adding that the first thing she did after absorbing the news was thank her director.
"I love Li Yu. Every actor needs a director who really understands him or her. For me that person is Li," she says.
Fan's current project is the US-South Korea co-produced war epic My Way, which also stars Jang Dong-gun from South Korea and Odagiri Joe from Japan. But the actress says her cinematic ambitions are still rooted in the country.
"I believe China will be the largest film market in the future," she says. "I feel lucky and honored to be a Chinese actress. Now, when I attend international film festivals, people no longer ask me if I am Japanese or Korean. Chinese filmmakers are attracting more attention and respect."