Chinese director Lu Chuan will be the lead director of the opening ceremony for the upcoming 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou city, an international sports spectacle taking place months after the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Held every four years, the games will occur from Sept. 10 to 25 in the verdant capital of Zhejiang province, coinciding with the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday. It will see the 45 countries of the Olympic Council of Asia go head-to-head in dozens of sports typically associated with the summer games.
Lu is known for films such as “Kekexili: Mountain Patrol,” “City of Life and Death,” and most recently and incongruously, the Disney nature documentary “Born in China.”
“As a film director I will bring visual ideas from the filmmaking process into the opening ceremony for these Asian Games,” said Lu. “I hope that people around the world can see vivid, happy Chinese faces one after another, and see the warmth in our hearts and our sense of responsibility to the world, as well as our inclusivity and openness.”
He added that he hopes the performance will have “ritual-like feel” and, in the city that is home to Chinese tech giant Alibaba, transmit the idea that “the development of science and technology improves people’s lives.”
The announcement comes amidst international concern over the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and the propagandistic value of its opening and closing ceremonies, which will allow Beijing to project an image of itself at odds with its current human rights practices in its Xinjiang region, where it is committing what the U.S. government as deemed a genocide.
Hangzhou will be the third Chinese city to host the Asian Games after Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010. China has dominated the event as the top medal-earner since 1982.
Lu follows in the footsteps of Zhang Yimou, another Chinese film director who has branched out to the performing arts by directing elaborate spectacles, such as Hangzhou’s G20 Summit gala in 2016 and the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics — the broadcast of which won NBC a Peabody Award.
He will lead a team of 17 local and foreign creatives developing the large-scale show kicking off the event. The Academy Award- and Grammy Award-winning “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” composer Tan Dun will serve as music director. He also wrote music for the 2008 medal ceremonies of the Beijing games.
Sha Xiaolan, the chairman of Beijing Funshine Culture Media, will head the production team. He has a long history of creating the lighting design for major sporting events and performances across the country, including for the 2008 Olympics and Paralymics, and the Asian Games and Shanghai World Expo of 2010.
Joining him will be Nathan Heverin as chief dance designer and Olympic event veterans Scott Givens, whose creative firm FiveCurrents has worked with the International Olympic Committee on more than a dozen games, and Nick Eltis as technical director.
Lu himself has previously directed other major government-backed performances, including a Silk Road-themed production in Xinjiang and another at Beijing’s so-called Bird’s Nest and Water Cube venues, both built for the 2008 Olympics.
He is currently at work on his long-awaited sci-fi blockbuster “Bureau 749.”