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Helmers salute Wu, Tian’s ‘Delamu’

Kudos kick off at Beijing gala

BEIJING — Zhang Yimou’s mentor, former Xi’an Film Studio chief Wu Tianming, received a lifetime achievement award Tuesday night at a star-studded Beijing gala to celebrate the China Film Directors Assn.’s inaugural awards.

More than 200 directors were in attendance, including residents of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

Tian Zhuangzhuang won the director honor for “Delamu,” the first installment of a documentary series shot along China’s ancient — and perilous — southern Silk Road.

Lu Chuan won the young director kudos for “Kekexili,” which makes its North American debut this month at the Sundance Film Festival. A semifactual account of those who poach endangered antelope, and the men paid to stop them, it recently won the picture trophy at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards.

Actress kudos went to Zhou Xun for her portrayal of an Amelie-like urbanite with a tenuous grip on reality in Li Shaohong’s “Bao Ber in Love” (Lian ai zhong de Bao Bei’r).

Li Xuejian took the actor award for his portrayal of a retired father determined to make a journey in Zhu Wen’s “South of the Clouds” (Yun de nanfang).

Zhang was saluted with a box office trophy for “House of Flying Daggers.” The film made 153 million RMB (about $18.5 million); it was 2004’s highest-grossing pic, repping about 10% of China’s B.O. for the year.

A panel of association members, headed by Chen Kaige (“Farewell My Concubine”), determined the honorees. Unlike other mainland Chinese kudos, the China Film Directors Assn. awards are given solely by peer review, without input from audiences, state representatives or other nonfilmmakers.

The creation of the awards this year coincides with China’s celebration of 100 years of filmmaking, and marks a further loosening of creative control in the film industry.