Film director Zhang Yimou (center), one of the recipients of the Asia Society’s Game Changer Award, with guests at the organization’s event in New York on Thursday night.
Architect I.M. Pei and film director Zhang Yimou were honored by the Asia Society as recipients of the organization’s Game Changer Awards at the United Nations in New York on Thursday night.
Launched by the Asia Society in 2014, the Game Changer Awards are designed to identify those who are making a positive contribution to Asia’s future. Nominations are solicited from the more than 1,000 members of the Asia Society’s global network.
Pei, who will turn 100 in April, received the Asia Game Changer Lifetime Achievement Award.
“He has changed cities, buildings and changed those of us who are in those buildings,” Ronnie Chan, chairman of Huang Lung Properties Ltd, said in presenting the award.
Calling him a great architect and a humble human, Lulu Wang, CEO of Tupelo Capital Management, said “we know him to be warm and generous”.
“Thank you all and seeing all of my friends have moved me. I hope to see you again,” said Pei in accepting the award.
Ieoh Ming Pei was born in China in 1917, the son of a prominent banker. At age 17, he came to the US to study architecture and earned a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1940.
Pei has been the design force behind the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and work on numerous schools, libraries and museums, including the Grand Louvre in Paris.
Zhang was named a 2016 Asia Game Changer “for changing the landscape of film in China”.
He is the director of The Great Wall, a US-Chinese coproduction that cost an estimated $140 million. The bigbudget period epic features American Matt Damon as a soldier in ancient China battling evil creatures.
China’s Dalian Wanda Group has been actively acquiring US film and entertainment assets, including the film studio Legendary Entertainment. Would Zhang like to see Wanda direct those investments into China’s domestic film industry instead?
“The economic questions are not my specialty,’ Zhang said. “China has undergone so many changes. Since the Chinese people have the ability to do this (the acquisitions), that is good. But I am a filmmaker and my job is to speak with my films.”
Zhang’s films like To Live, Raise the Red Lantern and Hero portray sexuality on screen, challenge traditional patriarchal attitudes and tackle sensitive issues related to China’s legal system and the “cultural revolution” (1966-76).
He was chosen to direct the spectacular opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics seen by 2 billion people.
Other 2016 Asia Game Changers are girls’ education advocate Muzoon Almellehan; entrepreneur Marita Cheng; K-Pop executive Soo-Man Lee; eye surgeon Dr. Sanduk Ruit; Afghanistan National Institute of Music director Ahmad Sarmast; impact investment pioneer Durreen Shahnaz; and Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra conductor Karim Wasfi.