China’s master of the big spectacle, Zhang Yimou, will receive the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker award at this year’s Venice Film Festival. The award celebrates a filmmaker who is considered to have made an original contribution to innovation in contemporary cinema.
“Zhang Yimou is not only one of the most important directors in contemporary cinema, but with his eclectic production, he has represented the evolution of global language of film, and at the same time, the exceptional growth of Chinese cinema,” Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera said in a statement.
Zhang’s period martial-arts film “Shadow” will screen Sept. 6 at Venice out-of-competition ahead of its Sept. 30 release in Chinese theaters. The action drama re-imagines an epic story from China’s Three Kingdoms period, and is visualized in the style of a Chinese ink-brush painting.
Zhang has been in competition on the Lido four times, with “Raise the Red Lantern” (1991), “The Story of Qiu Ju” (1992), “Keep Cool” (1997) and “Not One Less” (1999). He won the Golden Lion in 1992 and 1999, and the Silver Lion in 1991. In 1992, the Coppa Volpi award for best actress went to Gong Li for “The Story of Qiu Ju.” The awards make Zhang the director with the most top prizes at Venice within a 10-year span.
The hotly anticipated “Shadow” follows Zhang’s more mainstream “The Great Wall,” a VFX-heavy historical fantasy actioner shot largely in English and starring Matt Damon. “The Great Wall” grossed $335 million worldwide but angered some of Zhang’s most loyal fans in China for being popcorn entertainment.
“Shadow” stars Deng Chao in dual roles as an ailing general and his body double. Other cast members include Sun Li, Zheng Kai, Wang Qianyuan, Guan Xiaotong, Wu Lei, Hu Jun and Wang Jingchun.
The film is a co-venture between Village Roadshow Pictures Asia and Le Vision Pictures. Chinese digital giant Tencent recent boarded the picture.
Zhang is the 13th recipient of the Jaeger-LeCoultre prize since its inception in 2006. He will be presented with the award at a ceremony at the Sala Grande (Palazzo del Cinema) ahead of the world premiere of “Shadow.”
The 75th Venice Film Festival runs from Aug. 29 to Sept. 8 and will open with Damien Chazelle’s “First Man.”