Wolf Totem” was named as best film at the Golden Rooster awards, the biggest award ceremony in mainland China.

The annual awards which close China’s Hundred Flowers Film Festival, were this year held in Changchun, Jilin Province.

Tsui Hark was named best director for his war action film “The Taking of Tiger Mountain.” In an upset, the film also earned Zhang Hanyu the best actor prize.

The best actress award was also a surprise, with the prize going to Ba Dema, a 75 year old Mongolian who won for “Norjmaa.” Favorites in the category had been Vicky Zhao Wei and Tang Wei.

Another controversy involved the awarding of the best new director prize to Chen Jianbin for his film “A Fool” which has not been released in China due to the drug arrest of Wang Xuebing, one of its stars. From the stage, Chen said that the film will receive its release on Nov. 21. The film, based on a popular novella about a shepherd whose son is arrested and whose attempt to put together a bribe for his son’s release sets off a chain of worsening events, earned Chen the best director prize at the Golden Horse awards in Taiwan last November.

“Wolf Totem,” directed by France’s Jean-Jacques Annaud, was based on a hit novel about a man’s enforced communion with animals in the ‘Cultural Revolution’ era. The Golden Rooster Award may bolster its credentials in other awards races.

According to Annaud and his publicists the film has been selected as China’s contender in the foreign-language Academy Awards category. However, Chinese authorities have not yet made an official announcement of their selection and at least one other film has said that it hopes to secure selection.