Ac­tress Zhang Ziyi charms TIFF au­di­ence

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By KELSEY CHENG in Toronto For China Daily

The im­por­tance of hard work and per­se­ver­ance, along with a lit­tle bit of luck, is per­haps the secret to ac­claimed ac­tress Zhang Ziyi’s suc­cess, both in China and Hol­ly­wood.

This came from the pro­gram A Con­ver­sa­tion with ZhangZiyi, an on-stage in­ter­view at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val (TIFF) Bell Light­box cinema one week ago. More than 200 peo­ple gath­ered to see Zhang be­hind the big screen — hop­ing to get to know the star more in her most can­did mo­ments.

It was Zhang’s fourth ap­pear­ance at the fes­ti­val, and she refers to TIFF as an “old friend”.

“I al­ways find it an en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence to be here,” she said. “From small-bud­get in­de­pen­dent films to ma­jor pro­duc­tions, you truly get to see a wide range of films, di­rec­tors and stars. This is also why TIFF is so well-re­spected and has such a great im­pact on the film in­dus­try glob­ally.”

Zhang en­tered the world of arts when she joined the Bei­jing Dance Academy at the age of 11. How­ever, af­ter six years of tough train­ing, she de­cided danc­ing wasn’t for her af­ter all.

“I didn’t like it at all be­cause I wasn’t good at it,” she said. “Even though I tried so hard, sneak­ing into the class­room to train in the dark. I [would] start cry­ing — ‘Why I am do­ing this?’”

Fi­nally at 17, she de­cided to switch to Bei­jing’s Cen­tral Academy of Drama, where she found dra­matic acting more in­ter­est­ing but equally tough.

“In a dance school, you train your body,” she said. “But when in drama school, you train your voice.”

Zhang’s cin­e­matic de­but was in The Road Home, di­rected by ac­claimed direc­tor Zhang Yi­mou in 1999. She then came to in­ter­na­tional promi­nence in her film Crouch­ing Tiger, Hid­den Dragon, di­rected by Ang Lee, as well as in other films in­clud­ing Hero, House of Fly­ing Dag­gers and 2046.

She then crossed over to Hol­ly­wood in Rush Hour 2 and Mem­oirs of a Geisha, which earned her Golden Globe and Bri­tish Academy of Film and Tele­vi­sion Arts (BAFTA) nom­i­na­tions. In her most re­cent work, The Grand­mas­ter, she won 13 dif­fer­ent best ac­tress awards.

“I am al­ways grate­ful to the peo­ple that ever helped me,” Zhang said. “In the be­gin­ning, I didn’t know I could be an ac­tress, I didn’t know I had this skill. Step by step, they helped me, giv­ing me these op­por­tu­ni­ties to de­velop all these char­ac­ters, and to de­velop my­self as well.”

Zhang was also a mem­ber of the Plat­form jury, along with Amer­i­can direc­tor Brian De Palma and French-Cha­dian direc­tor Ma­hamat-Saleh Haroun. The CAD $25,000 award was pre­sented to Jackie, a bi­o­graph­i­cal drama about for­mer US first lady Jacque­line Kennedy Onas­sis, di­rected by Pablo Lar­rain, dur­ing the clos­ing cer­e­mony on Sept 18.

NA LI / CHINA DAILY

Ac­tress Zhang Ziyi an­nounces that the Toronto Plat­form Prize goes to Pablo Lar­raín for on Sept 18 in Toronto.

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