State-sponsored awards change pic focus

BEIJING — John Woo, Chen Kaige and Zhang Ziyi were among those receiving the prizes Saturday at China’s top domestic kudofest, the state-sponsored Huabiao Awards, which featured a host of stars from the Chinese diaspora.

The hand of the Communist government is much in evidence at these biennial awards, particularly in the way so many are shared.

Traditionally they have mainly honored propaganda films, but with the rise of the film biz in China, there has been more of a commercial focus, plus a lot more thesps and helmers from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Action stars Jackie Chan and Jet Li also took part this year.

Chen Kaige, won the director award for “Forever Enthralled,” a biopic of the Peking Opera star Mei Lanfang. He shared it with local favorite Feng Xiaogang, who won for his Chinese civil war movie “Assembly.”

There has been a lot of speculation that Chen has become a U.S. citizen, earning him the ire of China’s online community, who deem such a move unpatriotic. However, Chen made a rousing declaration of national allegiance.

“I don’t plan to become a foreign citizen, and I have never done so. I will work hard to spread Chinese culture as a Chinese national. This is called not forgetting your identity,” he said.

Actioner supremo Woo, recently returned from Hollywood, was given the ethnic Chinese director from outside mainland China prize for his two-part Chinese-language blockbuster “Red Cliff.”

Zhang Ziyi shared the actress award with Fan Zhibo for her performance as Mei’s love interest in “Forever Enthralled.” Fan won for the drama “Emergency.”

Zhang Hanyu took the thesp award for “Assembly,” which he shared with Guo Jinglin for “Yuan Longping,” a biopic about the agricultural scientist who developed hybrid rice.

The ethnic Chinese actor from outside mainland China kudo was given to Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen for his role as Bruce Lee’s kung fu master in “Ip Man,” while Shu Qi from Taiwan won the actress award in this category for “If You Are the One.”

Taking their name from the decorative columns outside the Forbidden City in the heart of Beijing, the Huabiao Awards are one of a series of high-profile, state-sponsored kudofests. They are sponsored by the industry regulator, SARFT (State Administration of Broadcast, Film and Television), and began life as the Ministry of Culture’s Excellent Film Awards in 1957.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

And the winners are:

BEST DIRECTOR: Chen Kaige “Forever Enthralled”/Feng Xiaogang “Assembly”

BEST ACTRESS: Zhang Ziyi “Forever Enthralled”/Fan Zhibo “Emergency”

BEST ACTOR: Zhang Hanyu “Assembly”/Guo Jinglin “Yuan Longping”

BEST ETHNIC CHINESE DIRECTOR FROM OUTSIDE MAINLAND CHINA: John Woo BEST ETHNIC CHINESE ACTOR FROM OUTSIDE MAINLAND CHINA: Donnie Yen, “Ip Man”

BEST ETHNIC CHINESE ACTRESS FROM OUTSIDE MAINLAND CHINA: Shu Qi, “If You Are The One”

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