At the recently concluded 68th Cannes Film Festival, Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao Hsien (侯孝贤) won Best Director with his martial arts-themed film The Assassin <刺客聂隐娘>, which stars Shu Qi (舒淇) and Chang Chen (張震).
Hou was emotional in his thank you speech, saying, “I’ve been to Cannes seven times and have only won something once. Winning Best Director really means a lot to me, thank you so much! Making a film is not easy at all, especially given how difficult it is to get funding sometimes.”
Premiering at the film festival, The Assassin was a Herculean effort, involving ten years of preparation, five years of filming and a $14.5 million USD budget. The film was well received by the audience, who were mesmerized by the elegant visuals, particularly scenes depicting the Tang Dynasty in great detail. There were, however, some critics who opined that the loose story structure of the film made it hard to understand, and that the characters were bland. In response, Hou said, “Right now, most people are used to the style of Hollywood movies, which is highly dramatic and in-your-face. This movie adopts a more nuanced style…the average person may not appreciate it.”
Chinese director Jia Zhangke (贾樟柯) who had previously garnered a Best Script Award at Cannes with A Touch of Sin <天注定> also took part in the film festival with his critically acclaimed film, Mountains May Depart <山河故人> in the running for the Palme D’Or, the highest honor awarded at the film festival. However, Zhangke did not achieve any award this year.
Hou is the third Chinese director to receive the Best Director Award at Cannes, after Wong Kar Wai (王家卫) in 1997 with the film Happy Together <春光乍泄>, and Edward Yang (杨德昌) in 2000 with the film, Yi Yi <一一>.
Other Chinese accomplishments at Cannes include Chen Kaige‘s (陈凯歌) 1993 film Farewell My Concubine <霸王别姬>, which remains the only Chinese film to be awarded the Palme D’Or to-date. Zhang Yimou‘s (张艺谋) film To Live <活着> and Jiang Wen‘s (姜文) film Devils on The Doorstep <鬼子来了> won the Jury Prize in 1983 and 1999 respectively. Tony Leung (梁朝伟) and Maggie Cheung (张曼玉) won Best Actor and Best Actress for their respective roles in In the Mood for Love <花样年华> and Clean <清洁>.
This article is written by Jingles for JayneStars.com.