China’s Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival opened in the coastal city of Xiamen with the announcement that the Golden Rooster Awards will be held annually instead of once every two years.
The Golden Rooster Awards have been held 23 times since they were founded in 1981. The event has been held biannually since 2005, when authorities streamlined China’s sprawling system of artistic awards by culling and consolidating a number of them. The Golden Roosters, which are determined by jury, were set to alternate every other year with the Hundred Flower Awards, which are decided by popular vote.
The decision to hold the annually once more was made “in response to the rapid development of the film industry” and “a major move made in response to filmmakers’ opinions,” said Huang Kunming, director of the central propaganda department, which was put in charge of China’s film industry last year.
In a keynote speech at the festival’s opening ceremony, he added that it was “necessary to conscientiously study and implement the important guiding spirit of general secretary Xi Jinping” in developing the film industry. He urged filmmakers to “consciously practice socialist core values and work harder to build a Chinese spirit…and Chinese power.”
Around 1,000 industry players attended Tuesday’s opening ceremony in Xiamen, according to the Xinhua news agency. They included Jackie Chan, director Zhang Yimou, chairman of the China Film Assn. Chen Daoming, and actors Wu Jing and Zhang Hanyu, the first thespian to win best actor trophies at all of the major Chinese-language prize ceremonies: the Golden Horse Awards, the Golden Rooster Awards, the Hundred Flower Awards and the Huabiao Awards.
A seven-meter tall golden sculpture of a Rooster was unveiled in front of the venue, which represents the spirit of “Golden Rooster independence” and a sense of “striding forward,” according to the Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily. It was designed by Wu Weishan, a curator at China’s National Art Museum.
The decision that the Golden Rooster Awards will now be an annual affair comes as Beijing hopes to establish it as a counterpoint to the annual, Taiwan-based Golden Horse Awards, which, as the most prestigious awards for Chinese-language cinema, are often referred to as China’s Oscars. The rival events will both issue their prizes on Saturday in clashing ceremonies. China scheduled its Golden Rooster ceremony to coincide with the Golden Horse event after a director last year made pro-Taiwanese independence comments in an award acceptance speech at the Golden Horse Awards.
The Golden Roosters will be held in Xiamen for the next decade, after previously migrating from city to city, with stops in Kunming, Guangzhou, Guilin, Chongqing, Shenyang, and Beijing, among others.