China keeps filmmakers guessing on Oscars choice

BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA- A top Chinese producer said Saturday Beijing was keeping filmmakers in the dark over the nation's Oscar entry for best foreign film.
More than 60 countries met last Wednesday's official deadline for submissions, with many nations revealing their entries -- but China, home to a fast-growing film industry, was not among them.

Film buffs believe Chinese officials are debating whether to offer up "Coming Home" -- a family-led drama set during the tumultuous Cultural Revolution, or gritty contemporary thriller "Black Coal, Thin Ice". But no official explanation behind the delay has been given.
"We haven't heard anything," said Zhang Zhao, producer of "Coming Home", on the sidelines of the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea. "There are many outstanding Chinese movies around now, so for us it is wishful thinking."
The US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is set to announces its shortlist of five selected foreign entries in January, ahead of the Oscars ceremony on February 22, 2015.
Italian film "The Great Beauty", directed by Paolo Sorrentino, won this year's prize.
"Coming Home" has been screening in Busan and three-times Oscar nominated director Zhang Yimou said he hoped it had shed some light on his country as it tours the international festival circuit.
The 62-year-old director of "Ju Dou" (1990), "Raise the Red Lantern" (1991) and "Hero" (2002) –- all nominated for best foreign film Oscars –- said he wanted the world to understand Chinese history across the many eras that held "special places" in his heart.
"Whatever film I make I want to draw attention to the characteristics as well as the uniqueness of Chinese people and Chinese culture," he said.
The veteran director will next turn his attention to more commercial fare with a blockbuster fantasy set around the mythical ancient beginnings of China's Great Wall.
Oscar-winning Hollywood star Matt Damon is rumoured to be putting his hand up for a role but the director said he had only just begun the casting processes for the film, tentatively set for release in 2016.
"The movie I plan to start at the beginning of next year will be very different," said Yimou. "It will be a very commercial film -- it will be a sword-fighting film, and it will be a fantasy film."
As the world's second largest film market, China is increasing becoming involved in international productions and Zhang's Great Wall film is being backed by US studio Legendary Pictures.
The director previously worked with British Oscar-winner Christian Bale for his 2011 drama "The Flowers of War".

Sunday, October 5th 2014

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