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Chinese film a hit at Berlin Festival

Chinese actor Liao Fan poses with the Golden Bear for Best Film and with the Silver Bear for Best Actor after the awarding ceremony of the 64th Berlinale Film Festival on the red carpet in front of the Berlinale Palace in Berlin on February 15. The film "Bai Ri Yan Huo" (Black Coal, Thin Ice) won the competition. (AFP)

Publication Date : 17-02-2014


'Black Coal, Thin Ice' wins best film and best actor for Liao Fan


Chinese productions reaped abundant praise at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival over the weekend, which shows Chinese filmmakers are more confident and more open to the world.

The Chinese film Black Coal, Thin Ice won the Golden Bear for the Best Film; Chinese actor Liao Fan won the Silver Bear for Best Actor for his performance in the film; and Zeng Jian won the Silver Bear Award for an Outstanding Artistic Achievement for the film Blind Massage. The winners were announced on Saturday local time.

The Berlin event is one of the best-known European film festivals, along with those in Venice and Cannes, at which up to 400 films are shown and about 20 films compete for the Golden and Silver Bear awards.

Gold Bear-winning Black Coal, Thin Ice begins with a grisly discovery of several corpses in 1999. Five years later, another series of mysterious murders occurs. Detective Zhang discovers that the victims were all connected to Wu Zhizhen, a young woman who works at a dry cleaners, but he finds himself falling in love with her. On a cold winter's day, he makes a horrible discovery.

Silver Bear winner Liao Fan played the role of detective Zhang.

"I wanted to make a detective film featuring life in contemporary China. My aim was not only to investigate a mystery and find out the truth about the people involved, but also to create a true representation of life in today's China," film director Diao Yinan said.

"The film revolves around a horrific homicide and its elusive perpetrator. The process of investigation highlights an individual at war with himself and his road to self-realisation and redemption. Indecision, cowardice, treachery and the impulse to surrender to social norms - these are weaknesses that come from the negativity and passivity of the human heart. They may cloud an individual's mind, but they can also become the source of humanity," he said.

Diao graduated from China's Central Academy of Drama in 1992 and has directed two films of his own, Uniform in 2003 and Night Train in 2007, which premiered at the Cannes.

"I felt really spaced out," Liao Fan said after winning the award. "When I saw the movie I was not so sure about award winning. But I felt assured because I watched it so carefully without any distraction, and I think I had done whatever I could to express whatever I wanted to express with it."

"I'd expected the Chinese films to do really well and Black Coal, Thin Ice is very good," Berlin bureau chief for the Hollywood Reporter, Scott Roxborough told Reuters.

"We are seeing Chinese cinema becoming more cinematically adept, not so overtly political. Chinese filmmakers are more confident, more open to the world," Roxborough said.

The Berlin International Film Festival had presented the Golden and Silver Bear to a number of distinguished Chinese productions and actors/actresses, including Red Sorghum, directed by Zhang Yimou, and The Wedding Banquet, directed by Ang Lee and actress Maggie Cheung.

"There's a lot going on in China these days, some of it more absurd than anything you might find in a novel or film. It's not unusual for artists to find that kind of real-life absurdity getting tangled up with the truths they're reaching for in their work. The ways that truth and absurdity get tangled together open up endless possibilities, which I find very attractive and fascinating," Diao said.

Black Coal, Thin Ice has yet to be released in China. Chinese media reported that the movie had already received a government permit and will be shown in the first half of the year.

Raymond Zhou, Liu Wei and Xinhua contributed to this story.


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