Text by Su Yuan
Some declared Chinese films thebig winners of this year’s BerlinInternational Film Festival,while others attributed Chinesecinema’s success to the festival’s juryrather than Chinese filmmakers.
On the day of the awards ceremony, aBerlin official revealed to a friend of minethat Chinese crews were required to attendthe ceremony because it would be a “bigday” for Chinese films. My friend relayedthe news to the Chinese delegation to thefilm festival. Many crew members of theChinese films in the competition, includingBlack Coal, Thin Ice, Blind Massage, andNo Man’s Land, walked the red carpet withanticipation mixed with suspicion. In fact,before hearing the news, Chinese participantsincluding Kwai Lun-mei, who playedthe female lead role in Black Coal, Thin Ice,had decided not to appear at the awards ceremony,but ultimately changed their minds.
The surprises came one after theother at the ceremony. If Chinese directorLou Ye’s Blind Massage’s Silver Bearfor Outstanding Artistic Achievementwasn’t enough for a “big day” for China,Liao Fan’s unexpected Silver Bear for BestActor would have clinched it. After longplaying supporting roles in such Chineseblockbusters as Assembly and Let TheBullets Fly, Liao eventually scored a Best(lead) Actor award. He once declared thatif an actor said he didn’t aspire for a BestActor award, he was lying.
Chinese attendees’ delight peakedwhen Black Coal, Thin Ice was announcedas the winner of the Golden Bear for BestFilm. Writer/director Diao Yinan was soexcited to have won that he could hardlypronounce the words of his acceptancespeech. Not expecting to win, perhaps hehad no idea who to thank.
Few expected Chinese films to winso many important awards at the BerlinInternational Film Festival because noneof them were previously considered thestrongest nominees. For instance, WesAnderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel wasa hotter ticket than Black Coal, Thin Ice atthe festival. It still managed to take homethe Silver Bear for Jury Grand Prix.