Five compete for China Oscar nomination
Directors never pass up an opportunity to compete for an Oscar — which is causing something of a headache for China's official broadcast media watchdog, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).
With competition hotting up to win a coveted China nomination for next year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar category, the State film censor has already received five Mandarin-language movie submissions: "Keke Xili," "Peacock," "A Letter from an Unknown Woman," "Shanghai Dreams," and "The Promise."
The deadline for Best Foreign Language Film submissions is Oct.3, with each competing country allowed to put forward one movie for consideration, so speculation is rife as to which of the five movies will get the nod from SARFT to run as China's Oscar bid.
Except for Chen Kaige's "The Promise," which is still in post-production, the other four movies have all proven popular at the box-office in China, and have enjoyed critical acclaim at European film festivals.
First of the five to make the running in the race for a nomination was young actress-turned director Xu Jinglei, who first won a Best Director title for her "A Letter from an Unknown Woman" at last year's 52nd San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain.
Then Gu Changwei's debut movie "Peacock" snatched the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in February. And more recently, Wang Xiaoshuai's "Shanghai Dreams" made a splash at Cannes in June, being named as jury prize winner.
Zhang Yimou is without doubt the Chinese director with the best-established international reputation.
A "fifth generation" Chinese director, Zhang is already an old Oscar hand, having taken part in the Oscar's red carpet ceremony four times before with "Ju Dou,""Raise the Red Lantern," "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers."
But unfortunately he left empty-handed every time, and a source from Zhang's Beijing-based company New Picture Edko Films, confirmed they had no plans to make a fifth attempt with Zhang's new film "Lonely Ride over a Long Distance."
Apart from the "The Promise," which is said to be an epic blockbuster, all the other four are low-budget art films.
Mindful of China's previous Oscar failures with blockbusters such as "Hero," "Warriors of Heaven and Earth," and "House of Flying Daggers," China film critics expect SARFT to go for an art movie this time round.
According to Oscar tradition, foreign-language films should be screened in local cinemas for at least seven consecutive days in a year, starting from Sept. 30. This makes "The Promise" ineligible for the 2006 Oscars, as the movie screens Dec. 13 worldwide.
A source close to the film's distributor said the scheduled date would not be
changed for any reason, including the Oscars. But he also added that they were
still waiting for SARFT to announce their final choice, which is due in early