Mon, May 24, 2004 - Page 16 News List

Asia flexes its cinematic muscles at Cannes fest

Asia arrived at this year's Cannes Film Festival with wins for South Korea, Thailand and Hong Kong, with the icing on the cake being Maggie Cheung picked for best actress

AFP , CANNES

Hong Kong's Maggie Cheung, center, Nick Nolte from the US, left, and French director Olivier Assayas arrive for the closing ceremony of the 57th Cannes Film Festival, in the French Riviera town. The Cannes film festival jury, led by Quentin Tarantino, announced Cheung as Best Actress during a celebrity-studded awards ceremony, the climax to the festival's week-and-a-half of screenings, soirees and star appearances, attended by 15,000 movie types and journalists.

PHOTOS: AGENCIES

Asian cinema may have missed the jackpot, the Palme d'Or, but was still a winner at this year's Cannes Film Festival, taking home honors and basking consistently in the limelight during the 12-day bonanza.

When it came down to the wire, politics nudged art off center-stage, giving Michael Moore's anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 top prize over the film all the critics were talking about -- Chinese movie 2046 by cult Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai (王家衛).

But Asians walked home with Best Actress, Best Actor, the runner-up Grand Prize and a shared special award for Thailand's first-ever bid at the Palme.

With Quentin "Kill Bill" Tarantino, the US director entranced by Asian film, heading this year's Cannes jury, it was hardly a surprise that movies from the East stole center-stage from movies from the West at the Riviera festival.

Films by established auteur darlings, such as US team Joel and Ethan Coen or Serbia's Emir Kusturica, went home empty-handed, and Brazil's Walter Salles, another hot tip for his road-movie on Ernesto "Che" Guevara, failed to win a mention.

But then, neither commercially-driven Hollywood nor artsy Europe appear to be producing as much novel and varied cinematic work as Asia

nowadays.

After almost missing its deadline for screening at Cannes, 2046 took Cannes by storm. It was the most-liked movie by a worldwide panel of critics listed in the film industry magazineScreen

International.

The same panel was cool about Thailand's debut Cannes film, Tropical Malady by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, though the jury, along with a few French critics, were over the moon about the two-part avant-garde tale featuring gay romance and a walk through the night jungle on the tracks of a mythical tiger.

Overall winners at the Cannes Film Festival

* Palme d'Or

Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore

* Grand Prix

Old Boy by Park Chan-wook

* Best Actress

Maggie Cheung in Clean

* Best Actor

Yagira Yuuya in Nobody Knows

* Best Director

Tony Gatlif for Exils

* Best Screenplay

Agnes Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri for Comme une Image

Jury Prize (tied)

Apichatpong Weerasethakul (director) for Tropical Malady

Irma Hall (actress) in The Ladykillers

Source: Reuters


"My film is so personal I'm not sure how well it will travel," Apichatpong told journalists. "But I hope this will encourage other Thai filmmakers."

On the acting front too, performers from Asia hogged the screen.

Maggie Cheung (張曼玉) gave an emotionally-strong performance as a junkie pop-star mother in Clean directed by her French ex-husband and was rewarded with a Best Actress prize. "He is the director who understands me the most," she said. "Because you know we were very close."

The 39-year-old Chinese actress, who has starred in several films by Wong Kar-wai, notably in the 2000 movie In The Mood For Love, made a name in the West in 1992 in New China Woman.

She recently starred in Hero, Zhang Yimou's (張藝謀) mega-martial arts production starring Jet Li (李連杰).

Also in the limelight at Cannes was China's Zhang Ziyi (章子怡), the former Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star listed as one of People magazine's 50 most beautiful women in 2002. She was breath-taking both as a blind warrior in the out-of-competition House of Flying Daggers and as one of the four women in 2046.

The much talked-about Flying Daggers is Chinese auteur Zhang Yimou's second foray into the popular epic martial arts after Hero of 2002. Also at Cannes and also liked was Johnnie To's action movie Breaking News.

Asian film, which is grabbing an ever-growing share of Cannes, festival after festival, this year accounted for six of the 18 films competing to win the coveted Palme d'Or trophy.

Japan and South Korea each had two movies in competition for the prize, and each scored prizes, bolstering hopes for their buoyant local industries.

This story has been viewed 5428 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top