Berlin fest names Asian actress prez

De Hadeln: 'I knew Gong Li would be the perfect jury president'

Actress Gong Li will be the president of the international jury for the 50th anniversary edition of the Berlin Film Festival. It’s the first time that a Chinese personality has been invited to serve in such a position at a major Western film festival.

To commemorate her participation in Berlinale 2000, the festival will present the out-of-competition world premiere of the actress’s latest film, Sun Zhou’s “Breaking the Silence,” in which she plays the mother of a deaf child. Gong Li and director Sun Zhou will participate in a press conference in connection with the film’s festival screening.

Gong Li first received international recognition in Berlin through her performance in Zhang Yimou’s “Red Sorghum,” her first film. It received a Berlin Golden Bear as best picture in 1988.

Perfect for role

“When I met with Gong Li in Hong Kong in mid-November, I was fascinated by her sharp judgment on the state of the world film industry and knew immediately that she would be the perfect jury president for Berlinale 2000,” festival exec director Moritz de Hadeln said.

Gong Li, who resides in Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing, is a member of the People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, where she has taken stands against state film censorship. In February she will be named an ambassador of UNESCO. It is in this role that she will inaugurate the Children’s Film Festival of the Berlinale 2000.

The Berlin Film Festival unspools Feb. 9-20 in its new home at Potsdamer Platz in the heart of the new German capital.

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