×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

After Golden Horse Awards Embarrassment, China Orders Talent Home for Huabiao Ceremony

China’s government quietly ordered top Chinese talent back to the mainland from abroad this past weekend to attend a Beijing ceremony for its highest film industry honors, the loosely bi-annual Huabiao Awards. The move came just weeks after it directed mainland film executives and talent to snub after-parties and return home as quickly as possible from the Golden Horse Awards in Taipei in the wake of one winner’s controversial pro-Taiwanese independence acceptance speech.

Director Chen Kaige (“Farewell My Concubine”), the jury president at this year’s International Film Festival and Awards Macao, which began Saturday, was summoned back to China for the Huabiao Awards and missed Macao’s opening festivities. Actress Yao Chen, known for her roles in Chinese hits “Monster Hunt” and last year’s “Journey to the West 2,” was also called back to Beijing for Saturday’s festivities, but managed to return to Macao the very next day. (The IFFAM runs through Friday.)

At a ceremony in Beijing’s Water Cube, an aquatic center built for the 2008 Olympics, Huabiao honored some of the most flag-waving films to come out of China in the past two years. That is no surprise for a government-run event, sponsored by the industry regulator in charge of censorship.

Hong Kong-born Dante Lam won best director for his patriotic action hit “Operation Red Sea,” while Wu Jing, director and star of the equally nationalistic “Wolf Warrior 2,” was crowned best actor. Jin Chen won best actress for her role in last year’s “Hold Your Hands,” a drama based on the true story of the village visited by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he first proposed a key national policy of poverty alleviation.

Ten movies were recognized as “outstanding feature films,” including the three mentioned above, Lam’s similar 2016 action flick “Operation Mekong,” and “The Founding of an Army, a work commissioned by the government to celebrate the People’s Liberation Army’s 90th anniversary.

Named for a traditional Chinese architectural element known as the “huabiao” – a type of ceremonial winged column – the awards are some of the mainland’s top prizes, alongside the Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Awards. The main attraction, however, may be the generous cash prizes, which act as a further subsidy for patriotic titles.

Though Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards ceremony, sometimes known as the “Chinese Oscars,” garners much more attention, some say its future as the preeminent Chinese-language award show may be imperiled after this year’s ceremony became a platform for dissent. Taiwan-based director Fu Yue, winner in the best documentary category for “Our Youth in Taiwan,” took to the stage to express her wish that the self-governed island nation could one day “be treated as a truly independent entity.” The speech caused concern over whether mainland talent would participate in next year’s event, with some insiders saying that the incident inspired Chinese authorities to go the extra mile in ensuring that this year’s Huabiao was particularly well-attended.

More than 300 A-listers such as director Zhang Yimou, actress Zhang Ziyi and Jackie Chan patiently sat through an evening full of government rhetoric.

“‘One Belt, One Road’ has created a bridge linking the ‘Chinese Dream’ to a global dream,” said the evening’s host, referring to the Communist Party’s much-touted global infrastructure project and a slogan popularized by Chinese President Xi. “We believe that in the future there will be even more Chinese films shining on the world stage,” he continued, introducing a song-and-dance number called “Taking an Ocean Voyage” that featured, improbably, heartthrob rapper Kris Wu, whose own songs boast more about money blown on handsome women than the peaceful spread of Chinese culture.

Online, forums were quick to mock the star-studded event, with users asking, “Did they all come to pay their taxes??” A popular response replied: “It’s also possible they’ve come to discuss new ways of stealing taxes.”

The banter refers to fallout from a tax-evasion scandal that engulfed mega-star Fan Bingbing earlier this year, which sparked an industry-wide tightening of tax regulatory policy that has created massive uncertainties for production companies and talent alike.

Last week, Chinese media reports surfaced saying that even Wu Jing’s “Wolf Warrior 2” had been singled out as needing to pay back taxes, leading an upset fan to ask: “So the patriotic film was not so patriotic after all?”

More Film

  • 'All These Small Moments' Review

    Film Review: 'All These Small Moments'

    The magic of writer-director Melissa B. Miller Costanzo’s “All These Small Moments” can be found within the intimacy of the scenarios, the authenticity of her earnest characterizations, and the accessibility of the actors’ honest performances. In her deftly polished directorial debut, Costanzo dovetails the primary story about a teen’s coming of age with a secondary [...]

  • Bruce Tufeld Dead: Hollywood Agent and

    Hollywood Agent and Manager Bruce Tufeld Dies at 66

    Bruce Tufeld, a Hollywood agent and manager who once repped stars like Rob Lowe, Laura Dern, and Kelsey Grammer, died Tuesday in Los Angeles as a result of complications from liver cancer. He was 66. The son of respected television announcer Richard “Dick” Tufeld and Adrienne Tufeld, Bruce began his career as an assistant at ICM [...]

  • Bruce Dern

    Film News Roundup: Bruce Dern's 'The Lears' Bought by Vertical for February Release

    In today’s film news roundup, Bruce Dern’s “The Lears” and “Angels Are Made of Light” are acquired, Cold War drama “Stanley Cage” is launched and a documentary about Madonna’s early music career gets a release. ACQUISITIONS Vertical Entertainment has acquired North American rights from NeoClassics Films to “The Lears,” starring Bruce Dern in a modern-day [...]

  • Octavia Spencer Bryce Dallas Howard

    Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard to Reunite for Comedy 'Fairy Tale Ending'

    Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard will reunite for the ensemble comedy “Fairy Tale Ending.” Jim Hecht (“Ice Age: The Meltdown) and Tracy McMillan (“Marvel’s Runaways”) are writing the screenplay. Howard will also produce the Universal movie through her Nine Muses Entertainment alongside Eric Carlson and Susan Carlson. Seth MacFarlane and Erica Huggins will produce [...]

  • Robert Smith, Longtime Executive at DuArt

    Robert Smith, Longtime Executive at New York's DuArt Film Labs, Dies at 88

    Robert Smith, a longtime executive with New York’s DuArt Film Labs, died Jan. 11 in Montvale, N.J. He was 88. Smith spent some 62 years with DuArt, the film processing and post-production facility founded in 1922 in the penthouse of an automobile garage in Midtown. Smith rose to president of DuArt before retiring in 2015. [...]

  • Bird Box

    Los Angeles On-Location Feature Filming Surges 12.2% in 2018

    On-location feature filming in Greater Los Angeles expanded impressively in 2018, gaining 12.2% to 4,377 shooting days, according to FilmL.A. Production activity for feature films rose 15.5% to 1,078 shooting days during the fourth quarter, with 146 days coming from projects receiving California tax credits — including Netflix’s “Bird Box,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content