Dis­puted choices

China’s choice of Jiang Wen’s ‘Hid­den Man’ for 91st Os­cars bid sparks dis­cus­sion on­line

Global Times - - Front Page -

The or­ga­niz­ers of the Academy Awards re­leased the com­plete list of 87 movies com­pet­ing for the 2019 Os­cars for­eign lan­guage cat­e­gory on Mon­day, re­veal­ing that the Chi­nese main­land’s pick this year is Jiang Wen’s ac­tion drama Hid­den Man.

Jiang’s stu­dio posted the news on its of­fi­cial Sina Weibo ac­count on Tues­day, with a num­ber of celebri­ties and stars post­ing in the com­ments to con­grat­u­late the team for hav­ing the honor to rep­re­sent China at Hol­ly­wood’s top event.

Di­rected by main­land ac­tordi­rec­tor Jiang Wen, who is fa­mous for his noir come­dies in­clud­ing

Dev­ils on the Doorstep (2000) and Let the Bul­lets Fly (2010), Hid­den Man tells the story of a young Chi­nese mar­tial artist in the 1930s who is trained in the US as a se­cret agent and even­tu­ally comes back to China to take re­venge on the men who mur­dered his teacher. The film pulled in a to­tal of 583 mil­lion yuan ($84 mil­lion) when it made its main­land de­but in mid-July.

This is the first time that one of Jiang’s di­rec­to­rial works has been cho­sen to com­pete for an Os­car.

Be­fore the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment came out, many Chi­nese ne­ti­zens spec­u­lated that Zhang Yi­mou’s pe­riod drama Shadow would rep­re­sent the main­land at the Os­cars, but film in­dus­try in­sid­ers im­me­di­ately pointed out that the film is not el­i­gi­ble for the com­pe­ti­tion as the rules stip­u­late that films for the for­eign lan­guage cat­e­gory “must be re­leased in the coun­try sub­mit­ting it no ear­lier than Oc­to­ber 1, 2017 and no later than Septem­ber 30, 2018, and be first pub­licly ex­hib­ited for at least seven con­sec­u­tive days in a com­mer­cial mo­tion pic­ture the­ater for the profit of the pro­ducer and ex­hibitor.”

Shadow’s main­land de­but on Septem­ber 30 ap­par­ently dis­qual­i­fied it from this year’s com­pe­ti­tion.

Some Chi­nese film crit­ics ex­pressed their dis­ap­point­ment, as they feel Shadow stands a far bet­ter chance than Hid­den Man.

“Zhang Yi­mou’s Shadow is the safest choice – there is hope that it could be nom­i­nated. A pity that its re­lease time dis­qual­i­fies it,” renowned Chi­nese film critic Dark Knight posted on Sina Weibo on Wed­nes­day.

“Though there is lit­tle chance that Hid­den Man can make it to the fi­nal com­pe­ti­tion, it is a far bet­ter film than those cho­sen [to rep­re­sent the main­land] for the cat­e­gory in the past few years,” Dark Knight wrote.

Some crit­ics worry that the film’s cul­tural-rich di­a­logue and Jiang’s ob­scure cine­matic style might be­come ob­sta­cles for mem­bers of the Academy.

“The film’s witty Jiang-style lines of di­a­logue might sound great to Chi­nese au­di­ences, but prob­a­bly not to over­seas judges who come from a dif­fer­ent cul­tural back­ground; the film’s cine­matog­ra­phy may in­ter­est them more,” Chi­nese writer Du Jinghua posted on Sina Weibo.

A num­ber of crit­ics, on the other hand, are op­ti­mistic about the film’s prospects.

“I think Hid­den Man still has a chance due to its fan­tas­tic aes­thetic style and dis­play of black hu­mor,” wrote Chi­nese film blog­ger Ying­shi Pinglun­yuan.

Look­ing back on the main­land’s pre­vi­ous choices for the Os­cars over the past decade, about half are pe­riod dra­mas that de­pict ma­jor his­tor­i­cal events or fig­ures, such as 2016’s Xuan Zang, 2013’s Back to

1942 and 2010’s After­shock. Zhang Yi­mou, Feng Xiao­gang and Chen Kaige are the direc­tors most-of­ten picked by China’s film au­thor­ity for the com­pe­ti­tion.

Zhang ranks at the top with seven works sub­mit­ted to the Os­cars, fol­lowed by three films from Chen and two from Feng. How­ever, while Zhang had three of his films make it into the fi­nal round, the lat­ter two direc­tors have not yet had that honor.

Pho­tos: IC/ VCG

Pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial for Hid­den Man

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