Glit­ter­ing at Golden Globes

Three Chi­nese films have been nom­i­nated for best for­eign lan­guage film, but it seems un­likely that will trans­late into tri­umph at the Os­cars. Xu Fan re­ports.

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

China has staged a strong show­ing in best for­eign lan­guage film nom­i­na­tions at the Golden Globes— which are widely con­sid­ered a vet­ting for the Os­cars — but in­sid­ers say it’s un­likely any Chi­nese films will take this year’s Academy Awards.

The Golden Globes’ or­ga­nizer, the Hol­ly­wood For­eign PressAs­so­ci­a­tion, an­nounced three Chi­nese films are among 53 nom­i­nees for the genre.

Can­di­dates in­clude Zhang Yimou’s Com­ing Home, two-time Hong Kong Film Awards win­ner Peter Chan’s Dear­est and best-sell­ing nov­el­ist Han Han’s di­rec­to­rial de­but, The Con­ti­nent.

About 90 in­ter­na­tional jour­nal­ists who are as­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers will vote for the win­ners of 24 cat­e­gories, rang­ing from best film to screen­play.

The Golden Globes are staged in Bev­erly Hills a month be­fore the Academy Awards and are con­se­quently con­sid­ered a lit­mus test for Os­car suc­cess.

While Com­ing Home, Dear­est and The Con­ti­nent av­er­age nearly 8 out of 10 points on China’s top movie-re­view web­sites, crit­ics tell China Daily they aren’t op­ti­mistic about the re­sults that will be re­vealed on Thurs­day Beijing time.

China Film Ar­chive cin­ema stud­ies depart­ment deputy di­rec­tor Zuo Heng says the films are too re­moved from Amer­i­can taste to take Os­cars. “I’m afraid none of them will be nom­i­nated,” he says.

“Com­ing Home tells an out­dated story set in the tur­moil time of the ‘cul­tural revo­lu­tion’ (1966-76). Dear­est lacks orig­i­nal­ity — the sec­ond half re­sem­bles A Sep­a­ra­tion (the first Ira­nian movie to win the best for­eign­lan­guage Os­car in 2012). The Con­ti­nent fails in its de­pic­tions,” he says, re­fer­ring to rough edit­ing and poor pro­duc­tion.

China Film Critic So­ci­ety aca­demic di­rec­tor Wang Xudong says: “All three face the same ob­sta­cle to win US au­di­ences. They can’t cross cul­tural bound­aries to gar­ner in­ter­na­tional ap­peal. But if I had to pick one that’s most likely to win, I’d go with Dear­est.”

He be­lieves that film, star­ring Zhao Wei, may prove a dark horse be­cause the re­al­is­tic story of a cou­ple search­ing for their ab­ducted child for three years is eas­ily un­der­stood by for­eign view­ers. It took best di­rec­tor and best film awards at the 2014 China In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val in London on Dec 6.

Wang cites Ang Lee’s Crouch­ing Tiger, Hid­den Dragon (the first Chi­nese Os­car­win­ner) and Venice Golden Lion-win­ner The Story of Qiu Ju (a 1992 Zhang Yimou movie) as films that cross lin­guis­tic and cul­tural bar­ri­ers.

“Mar­tial-arts films have long been aWestern fa­vorite,” he says.

“Qiu Ju’s story is about an or­di­nary woman’s strug­gle for jus­tice from the ju­di­cial sys­tem. Such pro­duc­tions can strike an emo­tional chord across the world. Com­ing Home and The Con­ti­nent are more tai­lored for the Chi­nese mar­ket. Only Chi­nese un­der­stand their sto­ry­lines and most di­a­logue.”

In­sid­ers say it doesn’t mat­ter that China ties with Canada for sec­ond in terms of the num­ber of for­eign film nom­i­na­tions. (France has six.)

“The win­ner could be the only film one coun­try en­ters,” China Film Ar­chive re­searcher Li Xu says.

But even if China’s can­di­dates don’t win, their nom­i­na­tions may yet trans­late into com­mer­cial po­ten­tial over­seas.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to pre­dict the in­flu­ence on in­ter­na­tional sales but is def­i­nitely en­cour­ag­ing to Han Han as a new di­rec­tor,” says Zheng Ye, pro­duc­tion plan­ning di­rec­tor of Bona, the distrib­u­tor of The Con­ti­nent.

The 2015 Golden Globe Awards will be held on Jan 11 and hosted by co­me­di­ans Tina Fey and Amy Poehler for the third time.

More than 51 per­cent of di­a­logue must be in a lan­guage other than English to qual­ify for the best for­eign lan­guage film cat­e­gory.

Five Chi­nese films qual­i­fied last year, but none won.

They in­cluded Hong Kong di­rec­torWong Kar Wai’s The Grand­mas­ter, Feng Xiao­gang’s dis­as­ter epic Back to 1942 and film­fes­ti­val dar­ling Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin. Con­tact the writer at xu­fan@chi­

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