Thousands of fans greet French thesp

BEIJING — Sophiemania greeted Gallic star Sophie Marceau this weekend in Beijing, where the Chinese preem of her film “Anthony Zimmer” is one of the cultural events closing the Year of France in China.

Marceau was deluged with gifts, including flowers, elaborate calligraphy and a Beijing duck, by thousands of fans who thronged the New Century Cinema and Stellar Cinema on Thursday and who attended the retrospective of her work at the China Film Archive on Friday and Saturday.

“People have seen a lot of my movies here — there’s piracy, but there’s also a lot of movies on official release,” said the 38-year-old thesp, who is France’s ambassador of charm for East Asia.

Marceau is huge in China, and her first visit in 2001 for the Shanghai Film Festival caused a sensation. Her work is widely distributed here because of good relations between the countries.

During her visit, she met local underground helmers Li Yang, whose movie about mining in China was banned, and Tian Zhuangzhuang, who was not allowed to work for 10 years after making “Blue Kite,” which was critical of the government.

“In our countries we are so spoiled. A lot of filmmakers here have been banned for many years, and it’s a hard reality for them. In places more oppressed, they have to find a way, they have to find a will,” she said.

At a press conference before “Anthony Zimmer,” Marceau said she was penning a fictional, nonautobiographical script with co-writer Gianguido Spinelli and added that she would consider working in China. “I feel a lot of energy here,” she said. “Things happen fast in this country; they can do in one day what it takes a week to do in France,” she said.

The Year of France in China, which opened in October, will close this month with an array of events, including a performance by Paris Opera Ballet, an evening ball in the Summer Palace and a jamboree on the Great Wall.

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