No room for the Golden Broom?

Nation’s ver­sion of the Razz­ies, high­light­ing the worst of cin­ema, hopes to keep film­mak­ers on their toes. But not all are con­vinced of their cred­i­bil­ity. Liu Wei re­ports.

China Daily - - LIFE -

While a Chinese Academy Awards is yet to ma­te­ri­al­ize, the Razz­ies are al­ready here. The sec­ond Golden Broom Awards, the Chinese ver­sion of the Golden Rasp­berry Awards, or the Razz­ies, took place in Bei­jing on Feb 22, to put a spot­light on the worst films of the past year.

Vet­eran di­rec­tor Feng Xiao­gang, whose Af­ter­shock raked in 670 mil­lion yuan ($98 mil­lion) in 2010, was the big­gest “win­ner”. His year-end ro­man­tic com­edy If You are the One 2 was among the three “most dis­ap­point­ing films of the year” and had “the most dis­ap­point­ing prod­uct place­ment in a film”. Feng was also awarded “the most dis­ap­point­ing di­rec­tor of the year”.

Not a sin­gle win­ner of the six awards at­tended the cer­e­mony to ac­cept their tro­phy — a broom to sig­nify a clean-up.

But Feng re­sponded scathingly in his mi­cro blog that the judges were “shrewd bas­tards” who should get a “golden aba­cus award” — im­ply­ing they were op­por­tunists tak­ing ad­van­tage of oth­ers’ celebrity sta­tus.

Ac­tress Hao Lei and di­rec­tor Pang Ho-chueng, who were not nom­i­nated, claimed that had they won an award, they would def­i­nitely have shown up to ac­cept it.

“The Golden Rasp­berry waited 15 years for the first win­ner to pick up his tro­phy,” says film critic Cheng Qing­song, who ini­ti­ated the awards. “I hope stars of China have more of a sense of hu­mor, be­cause this could be a plat­form to show their charisma. See what Halle Berry and San­dra Bul­lock did at the Razz­ies,” he says.

Di­rec­tor Jia Zhangke, Li Shao­hong and pro­fes­sor Hao Jian of Bei­jing Film Academy were among the 20 award pre­sen­ters.

Cheng started the awards in 2010, when many of his friends, work­ing out­side the in­dus­try, fre­quently com­plained to him about bad films. Zhang Yi­mou’s A Sim­ple Noo­dle Story won the most awards at the first session, but none of the film mak­ers showed up at that awards cer­e­mony, ei­ther.

“To de­ceive the au­di­ence into go­ing to the the­aters and make money first is what many film­mak­ers do now,” Cheng says. “The Golden Broom re­minds the au­di­ence of bad films, and the film­mak­ers not to make any more of them.”

Ac­cord­ing to Cheng, about 40,000 ne­ti­zens made their nom­i­na­tions from the films screened in 2010 via four web­sites, and a 31-per­son jury of crit­ics, re­porters, schol­ars and film­mak­ers de­cided the fi­nal win­ners.

Cheng is not alone. Ding Zhuo­tao, a di­rec­tor of Hu­nan TV, cre­ated the Sour Mango Awards in 2010, with such cat­e­gories as “the most fake 3D award”, “the most sleep-in­duc­ing award” and “the most dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand award”. A Sim­ple Noo­dle Story won the top Sour Mango Film of the Year. Only one win­ner showed up at the awards cer­e­mony, which was shown on TV.

How­ever, Ding has no grand am­bi­tions of try­ing to in­flu­ence the in­dus­try.

“I do not think the awards are pow­er­ful enough to im­pact film­mak­ers,” he says. “It works mainly as a plat­form for peo­ple to vent their dis­ap­point­ment when they find a film fails their ex­pec­ta­tions.”

Be­hind the emer­gence of these awards is the boom­ing box of­fice, which surged to a record 10 bil­lion yuan ($1.52 bil­lion) in 2010, grow­ing at an av­er­age an­nual rate of 35 per­cent since 2003. But many films, es­pe­cially the block­busters made by prom­i­nent direc­tors op­er­at­ing with lav­ish bud­gets, re­ceived poor re­views but did ex­ceed­ingly well at the box of­fice. The Golden Brooms are an at­tempt to rec­tify this. “Most film awards are gov­ern­ment con­trolled while oth­ers need to up­date their award pro­cesses. For ex­am­ple, some prizes go to films screened two years be­fore,” film critic Tan Fei says.

Mean­while, on­line film re­views are mush­room­ing and in or­der to stand out, some turn to hy­per­bole.

“The emer­gence of a Chinese ver­sion of the Razz­ies is quite un­der­stand­able. To some ex­tent they just crys­tal­lize the on­line crit­i­cism of bad films,” Tan adds.

But some say the awards lack cred­i­bil­ity. For ex­am­ple, Hu­nan TV, host of the Sour Mango Awards, pro­duced three widely crit­i­cized films in 2009, but only one was nom­i­nated and none made the fi­nal list. And the 31 judges of the Golden Broom were cho­sen by Cheng’s team, so the awards are likely to be heav­ily in­flu­enced by his own pref­er­ences.

“These non-gov­ern­men­tal awards could be­come in­flu­en­tial coun­ter­parts of main­stream prizes, only if they re­tain their cred­i­bil­ity and in­de­pen­dence,” Tan says. “Other­wise they will be­come mean­ing­less hype.”

When se­nior film re­porter Liu Ji­aqi and her friends started the Iron Ele­phant Awards in 2007, there were two cri­te­ria up­per­most in their minds.

It was dur­ing that year’s Golden Globe that the pair thought, “Why not make our own Golden Globe?” dur­ing a ca­sual chat on a bus. Al­ready two ses­sions of the awards have been held, at­tended by su­per­stars such as Zhang Ziyi.

From the very be­gin­ning Liu has seen the awards as a se­ri­ous ap­praisal.

“We work in the in­dus­try but keep a dis­tance,” she says. “We are not friends with stars or direc­tors, so we can af­ford to of­fend them. Iron Ele­phant is a plat­form where we can ex­press our true opin­ions.”

More than 100 film jour­nal­ists vote in the awards, one of which goes to “the most dis­ap­point­ing film of the year”.

“Film re­porters see many films ev­ery year, among which some are worth­while but peo­ple may not know about them be­cause of poor pro­mo­tion or their lessthan-stel­lar cast. We try to rec­om­mend them,” she says. “On the other hand, we do not tol­er­ate bad films.”

“Many peo­ple are likely to think that the non-gov­ern­men­tal film awards are just stunts or games,” she adds. “The only way to prove we are se­ri­ous is to keep do­ing it un­til we have es­tab­lished a rep­u­ta­tion for ob­jec­tiv­ity and in­de­pen­dence.”


Ge You and Shu Qi star in IfYouaretheOne2, di­rected by Feng Xiao­gang.


Di­rec­tor Zhang Yi­mou works on ASim­pleNoo­dle Story, which won the top Sour Mango Film of the Year, in 2010.

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