Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Huabiao Awards: And the Multiple Winners Are...

Shu Qi holds her Huabiao Award for Best Overseas Actress

On 29th August the 13th Huabiao Awards (华表奖) were held in Beijing. Named after the ceremonial columns that grace the palaces and tombs of imperial China, the Huabiaos are regarded as one of the three major film awards given out on the mainland. (The other two are the Golden Rooster Awards and the Hundred Flowers Awards). The Huabiaos have been held biennially since 1959, and unlike many other award ceremonies there are often multiple prizes given out in the same category. This year for example, awards were shared in all the major individual categories - Excellent Director, Excellent Actor and Excellent Actress - while a perhaps over-generous ten films were awarded the status of "Excellent Film".

The two Excellent Actor awards went to Zhang Hanyu for his role as a platoon captain in the gritty war film Assembly, and Guo Jinglin who played the title role in Yuan Longping, the biopic on the life of China's "Father of Hybrid Rice".

In the female category, international superstar Zhang Ziyi was one of the winners for her portrayal of opera singer Meng Xiaodong in Forever Enthralled. The other Excellent Actress award was given to Fan Zhibo, a specialist in "strong female" roles who played a dedicated deputy mayor in Emergency. The drama tells the story of two high-minded government officials who in response to a food contamination scare, "with a high sense of responsibility, and delicate and sincere feelings resolve the problem and win the support of the people!" - according to one publicity blurb. Coming soon to a megaplex near you...or maybe not.
The Excellent Director award was shared between Chen Kaige for Forever Enthralled and Feng Xiaogang for Assembly.

This year saw the introduction of three new categories, honouring the contribution of non-Mainland artists to the Chinese movie scene. The inaugural Best Overseas Actor award went to Hong Kong's Donnie Yen for his performance as kung fu legend Ip Man in the movie of the same name. Taiwan's Shu Qi completed her transformation from Category III eye-candy to respected actress. Her portrayal of the troubled romantic lead in the comedy If You Are The One won her Best Overseas Actress. Best Overseas Director went to John Woo for the historical epics Red Cliff Parts 1 and 2.

The full list of the ten Excellent Films, a few of which are unlikely to see the light of day outside mainland China, are:
Emergency (突发事件)
Iron Man (铁人) - not the Robert Downey Jnr blockbuster but a biopic of model oil-field worker and socialist hero Wang Jinxi
Women in War - Six Sisters of Yimeng Mountains (战争中的女人-沂蒙六姐妹)
Assembly (集结号)
Forever Enthralled ( 梅兰芳)
The River (大河)
Yuan Longping (袁隆平)
My Left Hand (我的左手)
The First of August (八月一日)
College Entrance Examination 1977 (高考1977)

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