HONG KONG — Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou was honored by the Venice International Film Festival this week for a body of work that embodies the “global language” of cinema.
The 68-year-old director, whose films include “Raise the Red Lantern” (1991), “Hero” (2002) and “The Flowers of War” (2011), received the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker award on Thursday at a ceremony before the premiere of his new film, “Ying” (or “Shadow”), a period martial-arts drama set during the Three Kingdoms era.
“Zhang Yimou is not only one of the most important directors in contemporary cinema, but with his eclectic production, he has represented the evolution of global language of film, and at the same time, the exceptional growth of Chinese cinema,” Alberto Barbera, the festival’s director, said in a statement. “Zhang Yimou has been a pioneer thanks to his capacity to translate authors, stories and the richness of Chinese culture in general into a unique and unmistakable visual style,” he said.
Barbera noted that with “Ying,” Zhang has returned “to martial-arts films with the formal elegance and remarkable inventiveness that has always distinguished his cinema.” “Ying,” which screened Out of Competition, is about a clash between “two feudal groups.”
The celebrated director has twice won the Golden Lion — the festival’s top prize — for “The Story of Qiu Ju” (1992) and “Not One Less” (1999).
“In China, we think that if you have a long life you have a long time to study and learn,” Zhang told Reuters. “I think that although I have been making films for 40 years I still need to study,” he said. “If you are passionate about your job you don’t want to keep repeating yourself, you strive to improve and make something that is better than your previous work and this is what keeps me going forward,” he said in the interview.
The Glory to the Filmmaker award is “dedicated to a figure who has left a particularly original mark on contemporary cinema,” according to the festival said. Previous recipients include actor-director Takeshi Kitano of Japan, Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami and American actor Al Pacino.
The 75th Venice International Film Festival runs through Saturday, Sept. 8.